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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

I was staring at my mobile trying to will it to ring, because writing essays about children’s cognitive processes and the best educational methods for teaching science is not the most exciting way of spending your weekend. Sitting cross legged on the bed, lap top propped up in front of me on an assortment of pillows and university books, staring past the screen out to the window and just willing my phone to ring, I managed to make it ring.

I answered, and it was my sister, and a whole host of people and dogs and domestic noise in the background. “I’m ringing,” said LittleSisterEdel in one long yell, “because I’ve annoyed Mum today, Derek’s annoyed Mum today and Louise has annoyed Mum today. I’m ringing so that you can annoy her, and then we’ll have the full house.”

Without another word, she then threw the phone back on the table and bellowed across the room – a distance of no more than a few metres – to get Mum’s attention over the sound of barking jack russels. Mum came to the phone.

“Have they been annoying you?” I asked.

She detailed the level of annoyance she’d been exposed to up until that point. I expressed my sympathy, and tried to engage her in further conversation about my upcoming visit the following week. I tried to explain my plans re being surrounded by jack russells for the duration, and enquired after the loudest barking background artist, who I took to be two Alsatians rolled in to one. “That’s Dudley,” she started, and then broke into a roar not dissimilar to LittleSisterEdel’s, which sounded something like “Shutupyoustupiddogoriwillsendyoutothepound!”

I asked what he was barking at, as the noise stopped momentarily and then began again with increased vigour. “Nothing,” she explained. “He’s barking at nothing.”

I squealed my delight, because dogs standing and barking in the middle of a room is the equivalent to toddlers standing and screaming in the middle of a shopping centre – a pure expression of joy and childishness that will never be equalled in adult life.

Mum immediately responded that if I made that noise again next weekend she’d kick me out.

In the background I heard Edel delightedly yelling “BINGO! FULL HOUSE!”


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