Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Scenes from a 70s academic childhood - no. 1

My sister is about 2. She looks like a bloke. A cross, ginger one (now she is exquisite and auburn and feminine - yes, you are Space Cadette, don't argue - which just goes to show something, but I am not quite sure what). She specialises in fits of screaming heeby jeebies that often require my mother to warn the neighbours that we are not actually removing her fingernails with pliers. Since next door is the HOUSE OF STONER STUDENTS, this is quite something. She rarely sleeps, and lives on baked beans and juice boxes. We are a little bit scared of her.



Prog rock step dad, however, with his saintlike patience, is unmoved. Thankfully, he is her primary carer. He wears bunches of nappy pins hanging from his jeans, carts her around on the back of his bike, glowering, to playgroup and to gym club, and gets her to sit in the kitchen banging stuff while he cooks elaborate curries. He plays her lots of Tom Waits and gets her to bellow along to "Let your bucket down" by the Blues Band. Given he also has to deal with me, sulky ingrate adolescent silently hating him, it is a wonder he does not go mad and kill us all. But this is not his way. One day, when one of her tantrums hits fever pitch, he starts reading to her from Skidelsky's biography of John Maynard Keynes. The effect is magically soothing. Her brow unknits fractionally. He finishes a complex paragraph on formative influences in Keynes' thinking. There is a brief moment of silence.




"More Keynes!" she demands imperiously. Prog rock stepdad complies with a chapter on the knotty issue of the abandonment of the gold standard.



Really, what hope did we have. Doomed, I tell you.

8 comments:

P said...

Isn't that what all babies say?

Jaywalker said...

Yeah, P, it's a famous milestone. Just after they chide you for your application of the pathetic fallacy to your pet cat, and before they start reading Kant.

peevish said...

Mr. Man used to read all sorts of Telecom & Programming technical guides to Lyra. She was entranced every time.

Hurrah for ProgRockStepDad!

space cadette said...

beautiful sister mine that is very kind of u to say i am exquisite :o) im not too sure id say more than a little of a that ginger cross bloke remains. if only some economic theory could still stave off my rage. xxxxxx ps impending birthday reminds me that time when we forgot and u made him a stocking of false nails and mini whisky from spar hahhaha

KSV Woolfoot said...

I guess the "no. 1" means this is the first in a series? I have thought for the last few years that 70s academic childhoods are an underexplored topic. Can't wait to read more here. Also looking forward to "I Quit Part Deux".

Jaywalker said...

Peevish - and to think poor Lashes spent his formative early weeks watching "Ultimate Tanks" with the CFO. What hope have we given him in later life?

Space Cadette - But when was the last time you tried it? Seriously, off to the library with you for a nice fat microeconomics textbook. Might work! Oh yes, the Spar present. Saddest thing was, it was probably his favourite present of all time, wasn't it?

KSV - yes, indeed. A whole series. Also - my wish is your command mistress! Part Two awaits your perusal.

Completely Alienne said...

My husband used to read football reports out loud to small daughters when he was a househusband. Apparently, it never failed to send them off to sleep - and they have never questioned their destiny to be Palace fans either - none of the Man Utd infidelity in our house.

black said...

bridal online shop bridal gowns wholesale wedding dresses high quality bridal gowns wholesale custom wedding dresses wedding apparel wedding dresses top sellers wedding dresses2010 new arrivals 2010 new arrivals wedding dresses beach wedding dresses Luxury Wedding Dresses plus size wedding dresses wedding party dresses bridesmaid dresses junior bridesmaid dresses flower girl dresses mother of bride dresses wedding shoes wedding bags wedding accessories evening dresses prom dresses cocktail dresses quinceanera dresses little black dresses