It’s half-term and that means one thing; the in-laws! Like the moon following the sun or the fact it will rain if you think about leaving the house, the in-laws will simply feature at some stage during a half term. I usually take my poison in one of two doses – either my mother in-law stays for a week with us, or Ros will go off with the kids and stay with her Mum or Dad for a week.
I’m lucky on the in-law front, I mean, I get along with them. They are nice, decent people, who have always been incredibly generous albeit they do not have significant means. The problem is they are in the autumn of their lives, and like anyone at this point they cannot do as many things as they once could. Of course, my mother in-law (Pat) point-blank refuses to accept even though she now walks like John Wayne courtesy of her recent hip replacement operation. Her cunning tactic is to keep telling everyone that it is Ray (my father in-law) who can no longer be trusted. Little bit like finding a wildebeest at the watering hole who is limping and is an easy meal for someone, she’ll tell you that just round the corner is another wildebeest who is not only limping but is also tastier and has a set of steak knives available for use. To my trained eye though – this tactic is not working!
Of course, Ray does not help himself. Several years ago he took the coach from Sheffield to Guildford to stay with us. It means he had to change in London. The fact he ended up in Portsmouth demonstrates it wasn’t a smooth operation. In his defense we can all take the wrong bus or train, it happens….but he just kept digging himself deeper. When I got home from work Ros and Pat were in heated discussions about where on the incompetency scale this crime fell. I backed him….more fool me.
When Ray arrived (4 hours later than scheduled), he gave his defense. That in a sense was okay, but the supporting evidence was damning! He went on to tell Ros and Pat he had called the house to say he was going to be late. Ros told him he had not called the house. Ray then went on to say he had called the house and he had spoken to Ben (who at this stage would have been aged 4). Ben had apparently said Mummy was out shopping, so Ray chatted to ‘Ben’ and explained he would be late and Ben had said ‘no problem’. Clearly, Ray had been ringing a random stranger who had probably couldn’t get a word in edge-ways as Ray went rambling on!
As Ray recounts the exchange, Ros is picking up the home phone and seeing who the last person was to call (and nope it was not Ray). Pat is rolling her eyes in the suggestion we should phone the nearest retirement home now and have him booked in….and Ray just kept talking! Ros then took his mobile phone and checks the contacts. Somehow, Ray has the wrong number logged under our home number. For two years he has been phoning the wrong house and they seemingly haven’t had the good grace to tell him that detail!!!!!
Finally, the room goes quiet. Ros offers to make Ray a cup of tea and briefly it looks like Ray has escaped judgement. Then Ray shouts over to Ros in the kitchen for everyone to hear – does she have any lip salve so he can moisturise his lips? Ros could have just said yes or no, but instead she asks why….Ray then goes on to explain that last night in the dark he picked up some lip salve to moisturise his lips……but in the morning he discovered it was not actually lip salve, it was pritt stick glue…….I’m guessing that may have been the moment that my mother in-law decided a village was missing its idiot.
Anyway, Ray has never been allowed to leave the house again without adult supervision and Pat has a rich tapestry of examples as to why she is fine in the big picture of life. Ros will be spending the week with them, I’m just there for the weekend…..and hoping Ray can somehow not provide any more comedy gold which the rest of the family will pick over!!!