AIDA AUSTIN: “It’s not like the time he said ‘the truth of the pudding’”

IT’S 8.30pm, and the inaugural visit to our daughter in Barcelona is under way. My husband and I have walked around the city for seven hours straight.

This morning, we took in breakfast, the Sagrada Familia, a picnic in Park Guell, and an unremitting two-hour search for the perfect pair of ladies capri-pants: black, tapering neatly to ankle, kind to both back and front bottoms. (Trousers which I can now tell you do not exist, even in Barcelona.)

This afternoon encompassed a pitstop at a ticket-booth, where my husband bought a ticket to watch Messi and Neymar play at Camp Nou, a six-stop detour in the wrong direction on the Metro, some colonic-looking tapas and two glasses of sangria (each).

We are meeting my daughter in a flamenco club on the other side of town in half an hour. Right now we’re in our apartment, lying side by side on the bed, trying to summon the desire to ever in our lives get off it again.
My husband mumbles something about Neymar. Then something about Messi. Then something about them being totally, totally worth it.

“Totally worth what?” I say.

“The €90 I spent on the ticket.”

I splutter something about extortion and profligacy.

“Well, that’s a bit of a mute (sic) point,” he says, “coming from someone who’s just spent €99 on a coat which isn’t even warm.”
I put myself to silence — on mute, you might say — and consider for a moment how, when I married my husband all those years ago, I had no idea that I was marrying into the Malaprop family. (No. Seriously. There’s a genetic marker for misusing words. There is.)

And it is hard, sometimes, being married into the Malaprop family, when, as my husband says, I carry the genetic marker for “finding it disproportionately funny when people misuse words and taking the absolute piss out of them when they do it”.

For a second, I consider letting it pass. I mean ‘mute’ versus ‘moot’? It’s only a teeny tiny malapropism after all.

I mean it’s not like the time he said “the truth of the pudding”. Or that Christmas when his mother got her idioms so mixed up I had to leave the room.

I mean I should let it pass. But what can I do? Like my husband said, I carry the genetic marker for taking the absolute piss.

“A mute point?” I say.


“Not ‘moot’?
“Yes, that’s what I just said.”

“No you didn’t,” I say, thumping his chest in glee. “You said ‘mute’.” ‘Moot’ should rhyme with ‘coot’, as in ‘bald as a coot’. It shouldn’t rhyme with ‘cute’. Otherwise it means ‘silent’. As in, ‘the telly is on mute’.”

“Christ,” he says. “What are you? The bloody grammar Gestapo?” But I am too busy rolling around in mirth to respond. On the other side of town, my husband, daughter’s boyfriend and I enjoy much better tapas. Afterwards, my daughter takes us to the oldest part of town, where we climb through a hole in a door and find ourselves inside a small, dark, smoky cavern.

For an hour, we watch a diminutive professional flamenco dancer slam her feet into the ground at four billion miles an hour. We cannot take our eyes off her. Not even for a second.

When it’s over, my husband asks me what I think of it.

“It’s so wonderful to watch a beautiful woman dance with her clothes on,” I say, “and without thinking, ‘poor thing, she must have such low self-esteem’.”

“I knew you’d like it,” he says.
“Did you like it?” I say.

“She was amazing,” he says. “she didn’t have those black clicky things though.”

“What black clicky things?” “You know,” he says, “those wooden percussiony things they click in their hands. Like shells. Above their heads.”

He demonstrates.

“You know,” he says, “caracas.”

(Work it out, reader. Work it out.)


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