Monday, 13 August 2007

From Mother to Daughter...

I have had this conversation piecemeal with my Mother-in-law over the last few days (as she has been staying with us), so in honesty this is a composite recollection. However, I maintain that it remains basically true in both tone and content, though I will begrudgingly admit that maybe I have added a word or two here or there, to augment reality for comedic effect - or perhaps pruned away the unnecessary details, like a master topiarist revealing the shape of a peacock in a hedge.
To counterpoint that, Gerry has already informed me that she plans to deny all and any of what follows on general principle, because Nini says that when I am done what is reported will be unrecognisable from what was actually said, bearing almost no relation to actual events.
Those of you who know us both can choose for yourselves, I'm not picking sides....

G: "I read your blog. It strikes me that Nini could be a bit more sympathetic about your kidney stone."
P: "I can't help but agree, Gerry. She is a callous, hard-hearted woman when it comes to my ailments."
G: "Well, I wouldn't go that far. That's not quite what I'm saying..."
P: "I think it is, in not so many words. I'm reading between the lines of what you are actually saying, to the meaning underneath..."
G: "Riiight..."
P: "I think it's important that the message gets out. People think she is so nice, and that I am basically this kind of rude grumpy monkey-man that she has to live with. They wonder how on earth she can put up with me. But we both know she has a dark underbelly, your daughter. A dark underbelly..."
G: "Hmmmm...." (I recognised this response: Nini has inherited it. It is basically a faintly neutral noise that they both make when they want to acknowlegde that they have heard you, but are actually in violent disagreement with what you have said)
P: (Forging ahead regardless) "People say to me: 'Are you like this all the time? How does your poor wife cope?' Hah! She copes because she has broken me, Gerry, like you would break a horse. I am a broken man."
G: (Detectably less neutrally than before) "Hmmmm..."
P: (Tapping own chest for emphasis) "Demasculated. A. Broken. Man."
G: "Well that's good, I'm proud of her. It means I've taught her well..."
P: "Taught her? Taught her to break me?"
G: "Oh, give over, you're doing alright on it. It must be good for you..."
P: "Good for me? Are you saying you approve of her breaking me for my own good?"
G: "Not in so many words..."
P: "What about Alan? Did you break him for his own good?"
G: "He seems happy enough, doesn't he?"
P: "He....yes..."
G: "My mother would have approved."
P: "What about Ben? What about your he? he broken too?"
G: "Well, not by me, but I do get to talk a lot to Tina..."

And there you have it. Oh, she'll deny it now, of course, and her daughter will close ranks, you just see... Worst of all, I'm sad to say the cycle apparently continues, as that night I had the following exchange with Amelie:
P: "Amelie, don't drink your bathwater. Don't! It's dirty!"
N: "Hmmmmmm..."
P: "Stop! Are you listening to me?"
A: "Hmmmmmm..."
(There is a short, antagonistic pause, during which I take the toy teapot full of scummy water from her hands by force, and she rolls her eyes theatrically)
A: "Daddy...?"
P: "Yes?"
A: "You are a dirty trumping piglet..."

And so, clearly, the baton passes on to the next generation...