Picture the scene. It is nine-forty of an evening, and the children are in bed and been told firmly and unequivocally, that unless they have suffered a severed artery, they are not to DARE come down the stairs again. The dishwasher has been stacked, the counters are cleared and you are ensconced on the sofa. You are on Episode 8 of ‘Firefly Lane’ and are ogling Katherine Heigl’s complexion but thinking that the facial fillers are a smidge excessive. Your feet are under a blanket and in your hand is a glass of Pinot Noir. You exhale. And then the phone goes. It is the landline, so you have to emerge from your blankety cocoon to fetch it. It can only be The Mothership. The tone, at the other end, is crisp.
‘I haven’t been looking at the blog for a while, so I have not been keeping a close eye, and that, clearly, is a mistake.’
It’s an ‘oh fuck, what now moment.’
I sigh. ‘Was it the vagina comment?’
‘The one about being constantly surrounded by children and husbands: your inner circle, day in day out. It wasn’t my quote anyway; I stole it off the internet.’
I hear the frantic tapping at a keyboard at the other end and then much tutting.
‘Why on earth would you repeat a thing like that? Why do you have to be so vulgar? It’s as if you are on a mission to shock! You wouldn’t have caught me, or your Auntie Bobbie, or any of my friends for that matter, coming off with the like. But no, I haven’t read it, thankfully, and I’m actually talking about the kidney comment.’
‘Oh, when I said about the vaccine being for the ‘greater good?’
‘Exactly. I don’t think you can equate the two. I met a man on a cruise once, and he had donated his kidney to his son, or maybe it was his nephew. A much younger person anyway, and he said it was a gruelling experience, quite traumatic, altogether a worse ordeal than he had anticipated. That’s why he’d taken up the cruising; he said he wasn’t going to be denying himself anything anymore, after that.’
‘Right,’ I say. ‘Well, the whole tone of the post was hyperbolic, like I didn’t really expect there to be coffee’. (I had kind of hoped there would be a wee van nearby though, you know one of those trendy little expresso ones that are springing up everywhere, there was one in the Stormont carpark the other day when we went with the dog.)
‘Yes, I do realise that Helen- I am not a simpleton, but I think these days, when we are talking about matters of such gravitas, that we should exercise caution. People are very sensitive right now. You should know better. You’re very sensitive, prickly even. Don’t we all know it?”
It’s true. I am very sensitive. LSB was wondering to himself if it was side-effect, being a grumpy bastard after the vaccine, until he recalled, with sadness, that I’m just always like that.
But tell me this, who isn’t a bit on the raw side at the moment? You need to have some moments of levity: if you didn’t have a dark sense of humour these days, to get through life with its Kafkaesque undertones, it would all be very bleak indeed. However, that said, please do accept my apologies if my facetiousness offends.