I’m staying on my mother’s side of the family visiting some of her other cousins. They were very nice, but their children were too good to be true. Butter wouldn’t melt…
They were always perfectly polite; knew when to speak and when to be silent (they must have studied Ecclesiastes). They were always polished. Maybe they kept them on the mantelpiece when no one was visiting. They were really very nice but a hard act to follow.
Mum and I went over by bus for tea. I was decked out in my best clothes and we got to ride on the top deck of the bus – a triple-decker day!
We had a nice time visiting mum’s side of the family. But the time did drag a bit. There wasn’t anything to play with but the cake was good. I had sat like an angel all afternoon when mum’s cousin asked me, “Do you have any pets?” Now things were looking up. This was my territory, I loved animals (still do). “Yes, I said, we have lots of pets.”
“Oh, what kinds of pets do you have?” I started to inch out on a limb, as well as liking animals, I was enthralled by comedians. I think if I had known then what a stand-up comedian was that’s what I would have wanted to be.
“Well,” I started to reply, my eyes looking into a visualized distance, “we have a pet dog named Chota, we have a pet cat named Dinky, we have a pet rabbit named Tinkerbell and” this was the moment of inspiration, “we have a pet cow!”.
“A cow? you have a cow?” someone asked. My mother looked surprised at this news. She started to make mouthing movements like a fish breathing.
Now I moved right to the very end of the limb, “Yes, we have a pet cow! There she is” and I pointed to my mother.
I think I could hear the hair standing up on the back of my mother’s arms. Dead silence.
My mother just glared at me (at the same time trying not to burst out laughing). The other adults looked like someone had mad a bad smell and changed the subject. Very shortly afterwards we had to leave! Apparently the bus was going to be early…
I did find out two things that day. Being a comedian is harder than it looks (so was Mum’s hand by the way), and it is possible to nag a child for three complete bus routes.
I don’t remember visiting mum’s family again.
Post Script: This was one of mum’s favourite stories from my childhood, one which she loved to tell again and again to my children and grandchildren.