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My perfect cousin November 29, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

“Name me two tribes who have invaded England,” ordered my cousin, J_.

I’m not sure how this conversation began. I’m two-and-a-bit years older than cousin J_, and I might have been concerned that he was cleverer than me so probably started telling him how much better my school was than his. So he thought he’d catch me out. “Bugger,” I thought. “Erm, the Zulus and the Canadians,” I proffered, on a wing and a prayer.

“Oh well, I can see history clearly isn’t your strong point,” said J_, like an old-aged, overweight alcoholic. He was 8.

You never know what’s going to leap into your head as you stand under the shower, checking for Alzheimer’s. Why under the shower, especially? Because that’s where I’m always struck with my most vivid moments of short-term memory loss as I can never, ever remember whether I’ve shampooed my riah. Or maybe I’m worrying in vain, and I just simply never have shampooed my riah. Which might explain the bird’s nest… So I punch the code into my mental keypad. Try accessing brain. “Have I shampooed my riah?” I ask brain. Brain makes clunking noises and spits out cousin J_ before the whole thing crashes and I’m left none the wiser.

“Hm, there must be something in all this,” I think to myself. “I may have serious, early-onset Alzheimer’s and the greasiest hair this side of Glastonbury, but perhaps my brain’s brought up cousin J_ for a reason. Reviving the competitive spirit? My brain telling me to get on out there, to go kick some intellectual ass? To read a book? To find out the truth about the ancient Kingdom of Canadia?”

I telephone my mother.


“Yes?” curtly, and annoyed at having Home and Away interrupted.

“What ever happened to cousin J_?”

“Cousin J_? Cousin J_?” I reassure myself that I don’t have Alzheimer’s after all and think about when I might next have a beer-&-fag session. “Oh, he’s still working for the same people he’s always worked for.”

“And is that, in your opinion, a worse job than being a translator, and I’d appreciate an answer that takes into account both moral and intellectual sides of the argument?”

“What?” (She switches over to Neighbours.)

“Can you list his academic achievements for me, one by one?”


“It’s very…”

“Well, I know he dropped out of university after a week and went back to live with his mum. Where he lives to this day.”

Bingo. I could hardly have hoped for a better answer. Thank you, oh mushy brain! Thank you, oh short-term memory loss! Thank you, oh filthy barnet!



1. Marsha Klein - November 29, 2006

It’s not Alzheimer’s, it’s that “Friends Reunited” thing again. You’re worrying that you haven’t “achieved” and that everyone else has impressive “grown-up” jobs. Anyway, at least you didn’t do what I recently did, which was ask a German if he knew the word “Alzheimer’s”. He looked me in the eye and said “Of course. It’s a German word.” So I know that I don’t have Alzheimer’s either – just terminal bloody stupidity!

2. pleite - November 29, 2006

Marsha, you’re an awfully kind and good person. One can tell that immediately. I hope Mr. Klein and your daughters realise it. I’m sure they do. If you weren’t perfectly happily married and in Edinburgh and if he wasn’t perfectly happily married and in Bognor, I’d try to set you and http://www.blognorregis.blogspot.com/ up. He’s awfully kind and good too.

By the way, I haven’t contacted that diamond-trader yet, which I know is naughty. I think I plan to, but everything just takes a gazillion years, for some reason. But I should behave better. I answered an e-mail recently from someone only after a week or ten days and got an e-bollocking yesterday. Ouch. Almost ruined my day. No, it did ruin my day. But I only had to work yesterday anyway so it didn’t matter, that much, that the day was ruined.

3. wyndham - November 29, 2006

What is it about cousins that makes them intensely annoying? My cousin was asking me that only the other day.

I have at least half a dozen cousins I haven’t seen for years – in a couple of cases, never. Petty animosities among the older generation break out like Bird Flu and eradicate fragile relationships. But, then, our family is loving like that. We make the Corleones seem like the Von Trapps.

4. pleite - November 29, 2006

My childhood was awash with cousins. Cousins all over the bloody shop. Now I think it is fair to say I NEVER see or hear anything of any of them. Actually, there are two I like, but I don’t really KNOW them. Always infuriating when my mother suggests, on one of my rare and short trips to London, when I don’t even get to see friends, normally, that we go and visit some aunt or some uncle. Although I did bump into some uncle or other, unexpectedly, at my mother’s house on one not-that-long-ago trip. Thankfully, he was gagging to get to the pub and the three of us trotted off, all behaving according to stereotype. He knocked back pints of some ghastly shit or other at a cracking pace. My mother – his big sister – looked nunnishly on, and sipped at Britvic orange, and I drank some poofy beer and moaned the whole time that I wasn’t in Germany.

5. Daggi - November 29, 2006

Diamond trading, eh?

6. pleite - November 29, 2006

Is it likely to be a nasty business, Daggi? He was always a bit louche, that pal.

7. MountPenguin - November 29, 2006

Ah, the advantages of a family which has a genetic predeliction to move away as far from one another as soon as possible, which in the current generation is manifesting itself as extreme emigration. (The last time I met my brother, for example, was a couple of years ago in a small town on the outskirts of Nagoya in Japan). It is however driving my poor mother crazy, who is dedicating part of her retirement to genealogy and is constantly frustrated by great-great-great-great-granduncles being born in somewhere like Weymouth, turning up on the 1891 census in Grimsby, getting married in Chelsea then fetching up dead in an almhouse near Manchester, usually in that order. (The only exception is one strand which seems to have inhabited the same corner of Buckinghamshire since about the fall of the Roman Empire, but they were all called “Smith” which presents its own set of problems). Alas there don’t seem to be any foreigners (with the exception of the odd Scot or Welsh person) in the entire lineage.

8. BiB - November 29, 2006

My lineage is pretty unexciting too. Nothing further away than Ireland and Scotland (and the Scottish is largely conjecture on my part), though I suppose they’re exotic enough. We’re emigrating like mad, but my brother has married a New Zealander, and, go back a generation or two and they’re all from England or Scotland too so nothing there to depinken the genes. The Russian and I are unlikely to reproduce. My brother-in-law claimed to have some Turkish origins, but it turns out he was confusing Turkey with Berkshire. Common mistake, that.

9. MountPenguin - November 29, 2006

Possibly he meant a turkey farm in Berkshire?

10. Beaman - November 29, 2006

Found you. Great new blog. Might try WordPress myself. Will be in touch. :-)
I was always a Neighbours person myself. Shhhh! (When I was a young teenager, as if that somehow makes it any more acceptable). It was actually quite good back then.

11. Beaman - November 29, 2006

Oh dear, I will remember not to add a smiley next time, I didn’t know it would actually make a face.

12. BiB - November 29, 2006

I don’t know what he meant, to be honest. I think there were some heroic WWI antics which got mixed up with fantasy. Hopefully nothing to do with basters.

13. BiB - November 29, 2006

Beaman! Hello! Bloody good to see you. And glad to see you almost back in the blogging way. Hope England has given you a warm welcome back from Berlin. Will update my links immediately.

14. Daggi - November 29, 2006

Nasty business? Possibly, if the diamonds are from some auction TV channel. Actually, I was just thinking of the money you might be earning though selling all that expensive jewellery.

15. pleite - November 30, 2006

End of the month. Rent. Medical insurance. Internet/phone. Mobile(s). Probably something else I’ve forgotten. I need diamonds. Lots of ’em.

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