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Dreadful Nonsense

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

We were all sitting in the front room of He Who Only…’s brother’s flat in Brighton. There were six of us - me, He Who Only…, He Who Only…’s brother T, He Who Only…’s brother’s fiancée G and He Who Only…’s parents. I had taken my shoes off before the grown ups arrived, and had noticed that, half way through a sentence, He Who Only…’s mother had caught sight of my new tattoo, momentarily lost the capacity for speech, and had then bravely struggled through the end of a suddenly shortened sentence while pretending that nothing was wrong.

I was therefore feeling a little uncomfortable - I want my in-laws to like me, you see, as does every lady who has a vested interest in their gentleman. I moved position on the sofa, so that the offending foot was now hidden underneath me. It is especially important, I think, to win the favour of the maternal parent, as they will hold sway over the opinion of the paternal parent, and once the mother-in-law likes you, it’s difficult for the boyfriend thereafter to dump you quite as quickly and easily as he may like to. He Who Only…’s mother doesn’t approve of tattoos. I would now have to work even harder to impress.

We were talking, as ladies often do, of babies. The wife of a cousin of He Who Only… was about to give birth to a baby at any moment, and there was much speculation as to when it would happen, and would the result would be, gender-wise. He Who Only…’s mother reflected for a moment on her slight sadness at never having had a daughter to call her own, as boys run heavily through their family.

“It’s mainly girls in my family,” G said.

“Me too,” I said, “it’s virtually all girls on both sides of mine.”

He Who Only…’s looked delighted. “So you can both have lots of girls!” she exclaimed, rubbing her hands together.

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, aware of the many deep shades of panicked-red I was turning, and changed position. I stared at the floor, and then realised the offending foot was back on show. I moved again, took a gulp of tea that was supposed to look casual and relaxed, and almost choked.


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