Sunday, 9 January 2011

Why Politicians, And Fathers, Should Be Careful What They Say.

Dad must have talked Dinah up. I do wish she wouldn't phone me on Sunday mornings, though - especially to talk about politicians and their aides getting shot.

"Did you hear what happened in Tucson?" she says. "I thought of you and those stupid supermarket surgeries as soon as I heard."

"So did I," I say. "It was terrible. Now can we change the subject, please? Seeing as thinking about it isn't likely to make the prospect of going to work tomorrow any easier to face."

Taking a hint has never been Dinah's forte.

"True," she says. "But you do need to be careful, Mol. There are nutters everywhere - especially in politics. Have you seen what Nadine Dorries has done now? I've just read her blog."

"I know," I say. "I suppose we should be glad Dad's not a politician. God knows how many times we'd have been put through what John Butler's daughter was."

"Huh. I'd tell Dad where to get off if he ever wanted me to issue a statement on his love-life. It's bad enough when he does that thing with putting new step-mothers on the phone to us."

"God, yes," I say, as Dinah and I both light cigarettes in the face of the recollections that that conjures up.

Every time Dad gets a new woman, he phones to tell us all about her, and then insists on putting her on the phone to introduce us. So then we have to make agonisingly strained conversation with someone we've never met and - if we're honest - have absolutely no interest in ever meeting.

Last time he did it to me, with the woman who was to become Stepmother Mk III, he prefaced the handover with,

"Here you are, Molly - speak to your new mother."

"I already have a mother, thank you very much," I said. "And two substitutes in case Mum decides to do a runner."

Only then did I realise that Dad had already passed the phone over, so relations with Stepmother Mk III didn't exactly get off to a good start. Given how long she lasted, I suppose it was probably a portent, not that Dad's sensitive to those. He's the living embodiment of the triumph of hope over experience, which probably explains why Dinah and I are exactly the opposite.

"Suppose we'd better thank our lucky stars Porn-Poon's in Thailand," says Dinah. "At least he can't stick her on the phone very easily. Especially as I get the impression that her English is confined to a fairly narrow subject area. Though, now I come to think of it, Dad did tell me to get Skype last time I spoke to him."

"Oh, bloody hell," I say. "If he wants us to talk to the Thai bride, he'll be bound to want us to go along with this stupid pretence that the relationship is a love match, instead of an economic transaction. I don't think I can do it. Not when I have to deal with so many of them at work as well."

"Well, you'll have to," says Dinah. "According to Dad, it's Romeo and Juliet all over again - but across a cultural divide. Not to mention an age gap that defies belief. As far as he's concerned, you and I are just cynics, Molly - with no appreciation of what it is to be in love. Talking of which, since when do people say they're in a romantic relationship for f*ck's sake?"

So now we're back to Nadine, then. I'm not sure if this is worse, or better.

"I don't know," I say. "I'm married, remember? Romance has become an alien concept."

"Like common sense in middle-aged men," says Dinah. "Look at Paul McCartney."

"What's he got to do with it?"

Sometimes following the thread of a conversation with Dinah is even harder than with the usual suspects, but she never makes allowances.

"Oh, honestly, Molly," she says. "Keep up, for God's sake. Heather Mills and Nadine Dorries were obviously separated at birth. You've only got to look at them."

This makes me laugh for all of two seconds, until I realise that Max probably counts as a middle-aged man. They're probably all susceptible to a lack of common sense. I seem to remember Connie telling me that they can't help it, because it's all down to biology - not that that is any bloody comfort.

Now I'm wondering what Max will say to the press if and when he dumps me for a blonde. Probably something to do with the abuse he suffers by having to live with a woman with an incipient beard and rather tragic underwear. And I can't imagine what Josh will have to say.

Although, on second thoughts, I can: he'd tell me that I need to get a sense of proportion. Things could be much worse, couldn't they? After all, I don't work for an American politician, and I wasn't caught up in yesterday's events at the Tucson Safeway store, thank God. And I'm not the parent of the nine-year-old child who died, or related to the other poor people who were killed and injured.

If evidence was needed to prove that people should be more careful about what they say, then Sarah Palin seems to have just provided it. Both Dad and Nadine Dorries look like rank amateurs in comparison.


  1. I'm with this bloke...

  2. While I'm simply in favour of politicians on all sides exercising a degree of restraint ;-)