Some months ago I wrote of my holiday in Cumbria in the company of my Mother-in-law and her (sadly now deceased) dog, Lucy. In that article I was able to quote one of the ludicrous things that she comes out with from time to time. You can find the piece in question entitled “Mother-in-law” and posted on 7th July 2009.
I was able to do that because I had by that time been writing these articles for some months and had learned that one sure way of guaranteeing being able to have something to write about is to make copious notes, not only of subjects but of funny or inappropriate things said.
I have, as of this moment, four quotes which I found somewhat amusing – three of them arising from the mouth of my dear Mother-in-law and the last, unthinkingly, from my elder daughter.
It is often said of such quotes that “you had to be there” and there would be very little amusement in them were I not to take the trouble to set each one in its appropriate situation and try to make it as if you WERE there! This also means that instead of briefly quoting four separate lines, I get to run on for several paragraphs and knock up the old word count a bit more!
Location: Driving to holiday cottage in Cumbria on A66 (Scotch Corner to Penrith), a road that passes over the northern edge of the Yorkshire Dales; countryside considerably more rugged and hilly than our native East Anglia. Specifically, somewhere near Brough.
Weather: Gloomy – the only bad day of the whole fortnight’s holiday!
Anyway, there had been one or two small rain showers as we went through villages at the bottoms of valleys and now as we climbed a particularly steep hill visibility diminished noticeably and the automatic windscreen wipers came on.
It was then that Mother-in-law’s voice came from the back of the car.
“Is that proper rain or are we just in a cloud?”
I nearly went off the road – not from laughing but at the shock of someone in their 80s having picked up so little about how weather works!
Location: Mother-in-law’s own little retirement bungalow a couple of hundred yards down the road from the Little Alfie household.
Present: Mother-in-law and my younger daughter “Charity”, who had done one of her lightning return visits from Carlisle where she lives and works.
They were discussing a UK television programme, “Loose Women”, which, for the uninitiated, is an exclusively female lunchtime chat show. The remark that was made about it is perhaps a little surprising from an old lady whose favourite cable TV show is “Girls of the Playboy Mansion”!
“I don’t like it when they keep talking about sex”, she told my daughter, and added “IT GIVES ME THE WILLIES!”
It is the evening of Christmas Day 2009 and those of us interested in the penultimate appearance of David Tennant as Doctor Who have had their Sci-fi fix for the day and have a week to wait for the grand finale! It is therefore, time for the Little Alfie family Christmas night tradition – a nice game of cards!
Present are Faith, Hope and Charity (my wife and daughters), Mother-in-law and myself.
I should mention that in the past I have sometimes ducked out of this part of the “festivities” mainly because I do find it terribly wearing every year having to explain to the old folks (and MY mother is just as bad as Faith’s in this regard) the rules of each and every card game that we’ve been playing together for the last thirty years.
And sometimes it isn’t just the rules of particular games she forgets. This year we had been playing for about an hour and I announced to the players, “Hearts are trumps”.
As quick as a flash my Mother-in-law responded with, “Is that the RED hearts or the BLACK hearts?”
The day before Christmas Eve this year, heavy (for the UK anyway) snow had fallen and the roads were completely snarled up as is usual in this country!
I mean it’s WINTER in the northern half of the northern hemisphere and bad weather comes as a SURPRISE?!
When I lived in Norfolk just under thirty years ago we had heavy snow and I got a lift into Norwich with a neighbour who had done some rally driving in Norway. He slid his Saab expertly into the car park at Norfolk County Council HQ and I asked him about a commotion that seemed to be taking place on the far side of the site.
“Oh”, he said, “they’re just digging out the gritting lorries!” And things don’t seem to have improved much in the meantime.
ANYWAY, my daughters and I were given a couple of tasks to do if possible and one of these was to collect the Turkey for Christmas dinner from the farm shop from which it had been ordered some weeks before. This was way out on the back roads between Peterborough and Stamford and I was trying to work out the best route to it. There were two possibilities and I asked the girls (who were in the car with me) which they thought was preferable.
My elder daughter, Hope, chirped up with “Take the road by the Crematorium Dad. That’s sure to be well gritted”.
Charity and I simultaneously responded with a slightly disgusted “Eeewww!”
To paraphrase the Irish comedian Frank Carson, “It’s the way you tell ‘em”!