Sunday, 6 February 2011

Playing Catch-Up, Or Why My Family Begins Every Conversation In Media Res.

Honestly, sometimes I'm not at all sure that my family isn't worse than the usual suspects. Talk about barking mad.

I've just joined Max on the sofa, in readiness for catching up with last night's episode of The Killing on iPlayer, when Dinah phones.

"Gah," she says, apropos of nothing.

No reply seems necessary, so I wait for the next instalment, which follows as soon as Dinah's taken a drag on her cigarette. She sounds as if she's turning inside out, she sucks so hard.

"What sort of man describes his Thai bride as a tomboy, for f*ck's sake?" she says.

I assume that this is a rhetorical question, until Dinah repeats it, louder than before. Oh, I see. I am expected to answer, for once.

"Dad?" I say. "When the tomboy in question is five million years younger than him? Or forty-five years, anyway."

"Exactly," says Dinah. "He still has no idea how revolting the whole thing is - so now I've bloody well proved it to him."

There's something about her tone of voice that starts alarm bells ringing, but I'm not sure that I want to know any more, so I stay quiet. Which helps me to concentrate on watching the subtitles, seeing as Max still hasn't taken any notice of my signals to pause the bloody programme.

Max might be oblivious to everything I do, but Dinah isn't - more's the pity. Sometimes I could swear she can see down a telephone line.

"Mol! I can tell you aren't concentrating. Are you even listening? I need to you to back me up on this. It's for his own good."

I doubt Dad will see it that way, whatever it is, Dinah not being known for the efficacy of her lessons in life. Even her so-called "top tips" are notorious for their general uselessness, but I suppose she has got an excuse. The stress of having a seventy-two-year-old Lothario for a father is enough to make anyone go bonkers after a while.

"Back you up on what? " I say. "What exactly have you done?"

"Well, I told Dad a bit of a white lie," says Dinah. "About Connie."

"You brought Connie into it?" I say. Very loudly, so that Max gives me a funny look and turns the TV up. God knows why, as he couldn't speak any Danish the last time I checked. Maybe he thinks it'll make the subtitles get bigger.

I glare at him, while cursing Dinah under my breath. It's one thing to mess with me, but taking my daughter's name in vain is a whole different ball-game. And what on earth has Connie got to do with Porn-Poon, anyway?

"I may have told him Connie has a new boyfriend," says Dinah. "I wanted to see how he'd feel if his grand-daughter started dating someone decades older than her."

"Oh, my God," I say. "That's not a white lie, Dinah - it's a stonking great black one. With knobs on. Oh, hang on, call waiting's beeping me."

I switch to answer the incoming call. Which turns out to be a big mistake.

"Bloody hell, Molly," says Dad, without preamble. (He's probably who Dinah gets it from.) "I've just heard about Connie's new boyfriend. If you can call a sixty-five-year-old man a boyfriend, for God's sake."

"Ah," I say. "Hmm. Yes, I see."

"I don't think you do," says Dad. "Whatever is Connie thinking of? He must be a right dirty old man."

I'm pretty sure that lack of insight is the first sign of psychosis. I just hope that's not hereditary.

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