AIDA AUSTIN: It’s important no one family member comes off as more stupid than any other

Sunday morning. My husband is in bed. I am in the kitchen, waiting for the coffee pot to boil. I turn up the radio; I’m trying not to listen to the small voice of my conscience.

I pour two coffees, turn off the radio. It is harder, I notice, not to listen to the small voice of my conscience when the kitchen is so quiet.

I head upstairs.

“What’s with all the action?” my husband says, “I mean, what time is it?” 

“9.30,” I say, handing him coffee.

“So it’s one up, all up,” he says, sitting up. 

“You’ve got Strictly Clon Dancing practice at 10,” I say, “coffee will put spring in your step.”

“What have I let myself in for?” he says, “I could be out on my bike now. Instead, I’m going to be…”

“…letting it all go loose in the Latin,” I say, “for 10 weeks solid. After which you’ll have to perform in front of 500 people? I mean imagine…”

“Imagine what?” he says, “seriously, what’s up with you anyway? You never bring me coffee on Sundays when I’m going for a cycle.”

“Nothing’s up, I’m just, you know, thinking,” I say. 

“And smiling,” he says, “what are you smiling about?”

“Oh… you know, just this and that.”

“What kind of this and that?” he says.

“I’m just thinking about the moral pitfalls associated with writing a column about family life and how for six years, I have managed to avoid them.”

“And?” he says. 

He gets out of bed and throws himself down on the floor at the end of the bed. Perhaps if I keep talking, I think, stepping over him to pick up a towel, I won’t be able to hear the small voice of my conscience. 

“And that the trick to this,” I say, “has been ensuring that I spread the load evenly in my column.”

“And having family members who take no notice of what you write,” he says. 

“That too,” I say. 

I look down at the floor. He is supine. He is making snow angels. On the carpet. I have never seen anyone make snow-angels on a carpet before.

“Just a minute,” he says, sitting up, “the load of what?”

“The load of stupidity,” I say, “I mean it’s important, in my column, that no one family member comes off as more stupid than any other. Basically, it’s been about adopting an egalitarian approach, sharing the idiocy around evenly. But occasionally…”

He lies back down. I think he’s done with making snow angels for now because he swings his arms up to the ceiling and over his head. 

“But occasionally what?” he says with the kind of look that suggests he has heard the small voice of my conscience, even if I haven’t. “Occasionally,” I say, “it’s less about an egalitarian approach and more about... not looking a gift-horse in the mouth.”

“With the gift-horse being?” he says, bouncing his arms up and down in the air behind his head.

“What are you doing?” I say. 

“Trying to see if I can get the backs of my arms flat on the floor.”

“You can’t,” I tell him, “they’re three inches off.”

“Stop avoiding the question - with the gift-horse being?” he says, flinging himself into a handstand.

“What are you doing now?” I say. 

“Just lumbering up for the Latin,” he says, upside down, “I wonder if I can incorporate, ‘The Worm’ into a dance routine.”

“As long as The Worm doesn’t involve being able to get the backs of your arms flat on the floor, you should be fine,” I say, “and it’s ‘limber,’ not ‘lumber.’ Christ, this really is a gift-horse.”

I get a fright when my husband executes a sudden manoeuvre, landing on his stomach. It’s not a move from any dance I know. 

It’s most certainly not from the Waltz and definitely not from the Samba. I think it might be a move from “Worm Fail” though.

“You’re not taking the piss out of me for 10 weeks solid,” he says, “stick to spreading the load. I’m drawing the line.” 

The small voice of my conscience is getting louder and louder. But it will be torture, I think, not writing about it. 

My husband executes another extraordinary dance move. From the Worm Fail again.

Absolute. F***ing. Torture.


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