From the above, you may have deduced that I am struggling, nay battling with the teeth-grinding trauma of an Easter en famille. In fact the only Family member whom I find remotely bearable at the moment is TD and that’s because she is slumming it in some castle in Bath with a friend and friend's parents and friend's Godfather who owns said castle and is therefore not here to harass me. She is doing it by text instead. I have been on the receiving end of countless missives, lauding the splendour of her surroundings and comparing same unfavourably to the hovel that is Crap Cottage. “This place doesn’t have a garden,” begins one text and I start to feel sorry for her; “It has GROUNDS!” and my feelings of sympathy ebb away faster than a rip tide. Can’t wait for her to come home and rub my nose in it some more.
Yesterday I am forced to spend rather more of my “leisure” time than I would normally choose with the Shah. We head off to the garden centre (again) and spend yet more hundreds of £££ in our brave attempts to make the concrete jungle outside Crap Cottage look a bit more inviting. The Shah has developed (yet another) highly irritating habit. In the space of two car journeys, he has done it to me twice which is twice too often. It always occurs just as you are attempting a manoeuvre which requires judgement and concentration – for example, reversing into or out of a parking space. All of a sudden, the Shah throws his hands in the air and emits a loud shriek. I slam on the brakes and scream “WHAAAATISIT?” at the top of my voice, imagining that I have reversed over a passing Pensioner or slammed into a Toddler. It turns out that he is simply imitating someone’s shocked reaction to something, or reliving a bit of a film, or singing along to a song on the radio – perm any one from three. After the second such occurrence, I offer to “chop his bollox off” if he does it again and he, in return, offers me the wounded puppy look, at which he excels.
Meanwhile, mama is in residence. Mama is grumpy and resentful. Grumpy because she is old and has the types of aches and pains associated with age and resentful because she is deaf. In short, everything is wrong. She has also resumed an old habit which is Giving Advice on Child-Rearing. You can imagine how well this is received. If she begins a sentence with “Well, if you ask me,...” I am inclined to rush from the room before yet another lecture starts and I say something we might all regret. On the plus side, she is steadily working her way through a mountain of ironing. On the minus side, she complains about every article she irons because it is too big/small/wrinkled/damp/dry blah blah blah.
Yesterday evening, an uncle phones. Have nice chat with uncle and hand phone to mama. Walk into family room where TS is glued to his laptop. “Have you noticed,” he observes, “Every time someone rings to speak to Granny, she starts the conversation by slagging you off?” I suddenly realise that he is right – bloody nerve! Then she falls foul of him by announcing to uncle on phone (who has clearly been asking after her beloved grandchildren) “I don’t like beards”. Now, my Princeling treasures his designer stubble and is proud of maintaining same and never venturing near a razor since I bought him a £6.99 beard trimmer from Chavco. He is mighty unimpressed by mama’s pronouncements. More so since she almost wrestled him to the ground in her attempts to make him watch the Boat Race on Saturday. I have no idea why she is so attached to this dullest of dull events - only slightly duller than the Shah’s addiction to Grand Prix races which I like to call “Men Driving Round in Circles” or Athletics which I like to call “Men Running Round in Circles” or Scrapheap Challenge which I like to call “Shit”.
Today, we are off to the Ideal Home Show at Earls Court. It is many, many years since the Shah and I have darkened its doorstep and I can only take this year's willingness to attend on the part of the Shah as some sort of mellowing process in his old age. Or dementia.
There will, no doubt, be a full match report later this week once I have recovered from the experience. (I use that term loosely, you understand).