Do you ever have those days that are unexplainably stressful? The ones where you wake up in the morning and think, what the hell am I doing with life. To be fair, the latter happens most mornings for me and that’s how I know I’m on the right path, but Friday was, without a doubt, one of those days. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, no one had pissed me off, but I was as grumpy as they come. Probably not the best day to have gone out for a family meal…
For those of you who don’t know, my family is crackers. Literally – we’re all cracking up. To put it into perspective, it’s a long-standing joke that my brother, Kenneth, is the sane one, but only because he’s severely autistic, and so, as far as we’re aware, he isn’t consumed by the family drama. Aside from Kenneth, we’re a melting pot of addictions, mental health problems and memory loss. God help us if we ever decide to play Kerplunk.
The Friday night shenanigans started when I went to collect Nan in order to take her to meet Mum at the pub. The one thing I should say about me and Nan is we are as thick as thieves. She will forever remain my chosen sidekick for all adventures because, as she puts it, there’s always excitement to be had. However, in recent years, her marbles have begun to run away which makes life slightly more interesting. Again, to use her words; “we would be alright if we could be put in a bag and shaken up because then we’d both have good brains and good legs”. It’s true, but you can’t have everything.
During the five-mile journey to the pub, we spoke a lot about a little. The conversation commenced with the usual question of how I was, to which I can only ever reply with; “I’m good, thank you”. If I dare respond with anything else or any variation in my phrasing, I’m told that that’s not what I normally say – it’s one of her many quirks. After a brief debate over what day of the week it was, we settled on the fact that it could be one of our choosing, and then we moved onto our regular topic of how people don’t know how to drive these days. We then discussed in lengthy detail about what I’d been doing; the ‘writing for the internet’, the ‘organising for an event which requires glad-rags’ and whether I was happy doing what I was doing. A short intermission saw us revisit the disorderly traffic debacle before we arrived at our destination which was followed by several questions concerning what we were celebrating. Nan most definitely beats the Queen on the number of birthdays she seems to have had.
Armed with a box of cat food and some milk, we went to locate Mum who was in her happy place – anywhere where there’s a bottle of wine or two. A somewhat icy greeting between Nan and Mum, combined with the confusion about where to leave the shopping, led to a mad dash to the bar and a hasty reorder of alcohol. The dynamics of Mum’s and Nan’s relationship can only be likened to vipers who have nested in a bed of roses – you never know what you’re going to get. With this in mind, the first few gulps of Mum’s wine served as a buffer to keep the conversation as tame as possible.
By the time we ordered our food, the side effects of the wine had set in and everyone’s memory was a tad amiss. Naturally then, the majority of the menu was ordered more than once. To resolve the confuddled situation, we thought it’d be better to keep it simple and have three of the same dish.
The topics over the dinner table flitted between Nan’s loose dentures to Mum’s unruly dog, George. Nan would begin by announcing her new dentures were wobbling when she ate, to which Mum would suggest she needed to go to the corner shop to buy some Polyfilla. Nan would retort by saying she gets her dentistry for free, which would then prompt Mum to jump on her soapbox about how it wasn’t free because taxpayers pay for Nan to have that luxury. Cue an awkward silence that was poly-fillered by Nan asking if Mum had been busy. And so, Mum would go into her autopilot rant about George and how he ‘helps’ her with the household chores. In turn, she would recount the tale of how George catapulted her into the metal wheelbarrow which has caused her front tooth to go walkabouts. In its place, she now has a denture… And before I knew it, I was trapped in Groundhog Day.
I love them both dearly, but as I watched the to and fro of their chatter, it reiterated to me that one of the reasons they don’t get along is because they’re so similar. Their similarities are caused by their genetics which I share. So, my future may well consist of loose dentures, Polyfilla, and an alcohol-fuelled game of life-sized Kerplunk!