tacit: (animals bin 8 weeks)
I spent Easter at Claire's house, where I ate far too much: slow cooked organic lamb from Jim's parents' farm, yum! Plus, obviously, chocolate. I drove the Nottingham contingent - Claire's grandpa Frank, and his sister, brother and daughter. Three octogenarians and Claire's auntie Angie, plus me, at Claire and Jim's. I love the pensioners, they're all wonderful in their own ways. Claire and I have had lunch with them once a week for the past couple of years - always Frank, and his sibs whenever they're living with him. They each stay with him for a few months now and then, because they are all showing their age in various ways. Frank is quite deaf and a bit blind, but he's mobile and he cooks, so he looks after the others. Kath is deafer, uses a zimmer, and has lost all patience with everything. She talks in caplocks - not shouting, but VERY FORCEFUL. She is impossible to ignore (although Frank and Johnny try their best), but she's 92 so we let her off. Johnny has bad knees and a terrible memory - he can recall what he did 50 years or five minutes ago, but the past couple of years up to ten minutes ago is lost to him. He can track conversation enough to joke around. I feel terrible for Johnny, poor guy, but he trusts Frank completely and feels secure there, so he takes his memory problems fairly in stride. It'd be easy for them to get down in the dumps about their problems, but they just tease each other. The guys gang up on Kath a lot, because as the eldest of six she helped raise the two babies of the family, and at heart they're still naughty schoolboys.

And they are so obviously siblings.

Conversations go like this:

ENTER EVERYONE
(Pleasantries. We sit at the table, where there are snacks)
Johnny (kisses Claire's cheek): Claire, is it? And you must be Jim.
Frank: Angie got me a keychain that beeps when I lose my keys.
Kath: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MY HAIR.
Johnny: It's gone rather white.
Frank: beep beep beep beep
One of we youngsters (we are pretty interchangeable for these purposes): That's it, huh?
Kath: WHAT?!
Frank: What's it?
Johnny: I said, 'It's quite alright'!
Frank (sniggers with Johnny)
Youngster: That beeping noise. Is that it?
Kath: OH. (preens) THANKYOU. FRANK TOOK ME TO HAVE IT PERMED.
(*an aside - Johnny was probably there. Kath is only sweet when she thinks no-one will notice)
Frank: Oh, I can't hear it.
(Frank grabs some nuts)
Frank: beep beep beep beep
Kath reaches over to steal some nuts from Frank.
Frank: Get your own, woman!
He takes a butter knife and makes to stab her in the hand.
Kath retracts her hand, is annoyed: THAT WAS RUDE.
Frank: beep beep beep beep
Youngster: Is it Kath that's setting that off?
Frank: Oh, is it beeping?
Kath: WHERE'S LUNCH.
Youngster: Pretty much constantly.
Frank (to Kath): You'll have to wait until it's ready!
Kath (glares)
Johnny: Is your car alarm going off?
Kath: I'M READY FOR LUNCH NOW.

It's chaos, but spending time with them always makes me happy. &hearts I love Frank, and have a giant soft spot for his sibs - and I love how spirited they are. When Kath goes home to her daughter's house, I go over for the occasional afternoon with a DVD, and I have a few beers with Frank - and Johnny, if he's in town.

When they're all together though, I always come home feeling slightly hysterical. We youngsters don't feel like it's fair for us to tease Kath too much, so there are always a lot of amused glances exchanged between us - and periods when we can't meet each others' eyes for fear of cracking up. Angie and I got the giggles on the drive home. Every time I drove over a pothole it was 'beep beep beep beep'. And then when they got to Frank's front door he still had to pat down all his pockets to find his keys.

They were all chuckling as I drove off, and so was I. &hearts

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tacit

August 2013

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