Thursday, 20 May 2010

Families for Dummies

Good God. When I was watching Tv last night, there was a clip of Ed Balls before he got contact lenses. He was unrecognisable. Maybe I should get some?

I wonder how many other candidates there'll be for the Leadership by the end of the week, all pretending that they're part of one big happy family and will support whoever wins. I like Andy Burnham's eyelashes, but I'm not sure they qualify him to lead the Party.

Not that I'll get a vote anyway since I refused to renew my membership over the stupid Iraq dossier debacle. When I wrote to Millbank to express my disgust, I received a Direct Debit form in response, telling me that this was the most effective way to pay.

In the same envelope was a flyer describing the new policy of "listening." Obviously this does not include reading letters from disgruntled constituency staff - or even the general public, hence the election result.

Talking of happy families, the Press keep bemoaning the death of the extended family, but what they don't say is that it's just become over-extended due to divorce, so that people like me have to spend all their time phoning various parental figures.

You feel guilty for not phoning them, then you phone one and immediately feel guilty that you haven't phoned the other. Before you know it, that's the whole evening gone. I sometimes think it would be much easier to be an orphan. Then that makes me feel guilty too.

When your job involves spending all day taking calls from a collection of often-abusive nutcases and whingers, you don't perceive having a "nice long chat on the phone" in your leisure time as a good thing, no matter who it's with. However, today's been a bit quieter than usual - mainly due to a cunning plan I cooked up with Marie-Louise, The Boss's Diary Secretary.

She's crammed his diary chock-full of (largely pointless) meetings for the rest of this week. So Greg and I get a much-needed break from Andrew's phone calls today. We're all sick to death of listening to him moaning about why it is that no-one has approached him to stand for the leadership.

So, by the time I get home from work, I am less horrified by the sight of a phone than usual, so I decide I'd better call Mum and capitalise on this rare state of affairs. Then I remember it's Dad's turn, so I try him first.

"I went to B&Q today," he says. "Never going there again on a Thursday. Bloody awful."

"Why?' I say, somewhat bemused.

"Full of bloody wrinklies," he says. He is seventy-five, for God's sake.

After he has explained to me exactly what is wrong with the country - and asked me a hundred incomprehensible questions about the apparent foibles of his new computer - I finally manage to get him off the phone. One hour and forty-five minutes exactly.

I need three consecutive cigarettes before I can handle phoning Mum. She is unavailable - something to do with the painful buttock - so Ted chats to me for 5 minutes exactly and that's it. Result!

It's only 10:45pm. If I put off calling Stepmother Mark I until tomorrow night, I might catch the end of Question Time and be able to vent the day's aggression by shouting at the TV.

Best-laid plans and all that. I miss QT, when Dad phones back with "a quick computer question." Two hours later, I go onto Amazon and buy a copy of PCs for Dummies. I arrange for it to be sent directly to Dad, labelled: a gift from a well-wisher.

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