AIDA AUSTIN: Sustaining this column on my shortcomings would be hard

New year, and now that I’m entering my fifth year of writing this column, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge the people in my life who offer themselves up for ridicule each week — and make this column possible.

Sustaining this column on my own shortcomings alone would be hard; it’s not that I don’t have enough, it’s just that I’m lucky to have friends and family members whose shortcomings are far more worthy of print anecdotes than my own: In such a case, it makes sense to spread the load. 

If, in acknowledging my loved ones’ contributions, I also manage to tie up a few narrative loose-ends, then all to the good. 

So thank you to: 1. My sister, for not minding me drawing her as — as she sees it — “a lonely lezzer from London with OCD, who keeps her towels in vacu–pacs”. And for tolerating my ongoing depiction of her newly-single status and online dating experiences as “like being in Battersea Dogs Home, waiting to be rehomed”.

I can gladly report that she is now in a relationship with — as my mother puts it — “a nice wholesome lesbian”.

She’s in New York with her girlfriend at this very moment, enjoying a city–break in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where she won’t have to worry about running out of loo–roll. After that she will visit me, where she will. 

2. My four grown–up children, for having no more sensitivities than is good for them. And for having better things to do with their lives than check my column on a regular basis. 

3. My Sligo sister, for never objecting to my portrayal of her as being, “like Ma, from Little House on the Prairie but mad for drink — and a shit cook”. 

And for continuing to serve up meals — this year’s Christmas dinner was a Thai/turkey fusion affair— for me to parody in print; no meal has ever lent itself to mockery quite so well as her pike and pineapple curry, but for as long as she keeps on cooking, I live in hope. And also, that a new bathroom has been installed to replace the one that my mother in particular was nervous of using. 

“It’s so proper,” she says, “that it puts the rest of the house to Currently, she’s considering rearranging the doors, so that visitors are forced to enter the new bathroom directly through the front door, whereupon she will coerce them into admiring it. 

4. To my oldest friend Vanessa, who appears frequently in this column and whom I fear — what with all my talk of her obsession with perfect pork crackling, recipe magazines and creme a la peche – readers must surely imagine as very, very fat.

For her sake, I’d like to report that the opposite is true, though God knows how. 

5. My mother, who has not let my characterisation of her as “an annoying old harridan addicted to Candy Crush,” put her off phoning me on Monday mornings for a chat. “Nice to know being an annoying old harridan serves some purpose, love,” she says, “because god knows Candy Crush certainly doesn’t.”

I’m pleased to report she’s in fine fettle, apart from her slightly high cholesterol, which up until now she swore blind didn’t exist at least not in her day. She is not eating her words, however, but continues to eat butter and hard cheese 

6. And last but not least, thanks to my husband for being the sort of person who never gets pissed off about nothing and always looks on the bright side: “People thinking I’m the most stupid husband this side of Cork,” he says, “isn’t nearly as bad as people thinking you’re the most difficult wife.”

I’m pleased to say that for now, he is enjoying the full range of movement in both legs but plans to break both legs in February: he is booking a skiing trip as I write.

He’ll know all about difficult then.


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