● “They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do.” Philip Larkin’s This Be The Verse wasn’t on my English O-level curriculum. I might have liked him more if it had been. Stella, one of our family group workers, is getting married next month. And it is this that prompted memories of my parents.
I love weddings. My first “wedding” trip came when I was eight years old. My mother told us we were all going. I was so excited. I just couldn’t wait. I got a pop-up wedding book out of the library to gen up on what happens. So, imagine my disappointment that sun-soaked Saturday when mother’s slight speech impediment suddenly registered with me at the exact moment the family Hillman Avenger (if you’re under 30, ask your parents – if you’re still talking to them) pulled past a sign welcoming us to Reading.
Mother tried her best, but I was inconsolable. My father told me to pull myself together. Mr Warlock (he was never big on familiarity) hated undisciplined affection. He was to parenting what King Herod was to childminding.
As Oscar Wilde said: “Children begin by loving their parents as they grow older they judge them sometimes they forgive them.”
● I phoned the local benefits support officer last week and was greeted with the following message: “You have been forwarded to a voicemail system. However, the person at x4633 does not subscribe to this service. Goodbye.”
● Thanks also to a reader who contacted me to say that her colleague who has just given birth has named the child after their much-loved area manager. Complete Waste of Space weighed in at 7lbs 4oz.
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