And on the 9th day of Christmas, they peered down at the crib and rejoiced in exaltation “It’s a miracle!”. For she had finally succumbed to the evil infection that had been trying to make off with her voice. It succeeded overnight. They had come from afar (the living room, the kitchen) to behold the blessed silence.
“How can we repay you, O Lord?”, they chanted. “Is there anything I can get for you?”, he meekly enquired with lips struggling to maintain a straight line. She shook her head in feigned helplessness, vowing to recover the power of bullshit with which she would torment him as soon as possible. Even if it necessitated channelling it through the vocal pipes of Marge Simpson. She would be that soldier.
Right, that’s enough of that talk in the third person carry-on. It’s been dull as Farrah from Fair City round here lately. What with re-posts and seasonal lethargy. How folk had the wherewithal to round up reviews and get to work on delusions of their new, improved, selves during the festival of sloth is impressive but appalling. Until yesterday, my conversational frame of reference had shrunk to the critical issues of mini fudge reserves, the scientific dilemma of over-lapping programmes and under-chilled drinks , and whose turn it is to parent. In that order.
It took a lethal concoction of interventions to revive the ailing energy levels; namely sickness and competition. The former is usually the sole source of competition in our family and enough to energise us all.
“I think I’ve a cold coming on.”
“I’ll see your cold and raise you a septic head.”
“I’ll see both your colds and your septic head and raise you a potential personality disorder.”
“OK, I’ll see all those and raise you a dysfunctional childhood with father/daughter issues.”
“Ah fuck off, you know we can’t compete with the only girl in the family.”
*slightly victorious before dark realisation descends*
“Hang on, did you just eat that last fudge?” etc. etc.
But yesterday, after years of dutifully showing up at the in-laws for alternative family dysfunction (hugging, civility, conversation), we were catapulted back into the bowels of mine for New Year’s.
And what does New Year’s at the brother’s mean? A general knowledge quiz apparently. Cue furtive glances towards my fella. Our ability to resume eating following a catastrophic outburst of paranoia round the table, he can handle. Ditto the mild elder abuse towards our Da. Mild, since he can no longer hear very well. Abusive, as we’ve a tendency to mix up the chronology of events. Our instant reversion to our 1970s selves? No bother. But a quiz… I wasn’t so sure. Especially with my oldest brother, Pol Pot, as quiz master. We approached it with all the enthusiasm of the office party. Rictus grins and laughs neither of us recognised from the other.
Twenty minutes later we were on our feet contesting the withdrawal of a point for failing to give the new Star Wars film its full title. We were only double-figures in the lead but that’s not the point. It was the principle of the matter, and other clichéd defences. And outbursts of incredulity, and charges of double-standards, and references to similar miscarriages of justice in the Great Nail-Biting Final Round of 2015 we regretfully missed. And bitter groans in response to woeful puns from the quiz master as he announced Joan Burton’s Canoe as the team that sailed ahead (groan) to claim victory. (Christeama Aguilera came second – bigger groan).
With last year’s winners ungraciously deposed, there was consensus in favour of my fella circulating round the teams next time to even out the scores. “God, I’m wrecked after that”, he sighed. Excessive praise will do that to a person alright. “I’ll see your tiredness and raise you a persecution complex”. “What was that? You sound awful”. Yay. I won.
In America, what does the term ZIP stand for?
Mmmm I was sure it was fire-lighter