Home > Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family (Walsh Family #6)(10)

Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family (Walsh Family #6)(10)
Marian Keyes

I was with him and I warned him specifically not to do it and still he did. And can you tell me what happened? Yes! He hurt his fecking neck again and we had to spend our ‘precious’ time in LA looking for a chiropractor. Not to mention spending our precious holiday money.

J is for Jumped-up Cauliflower. Or, as Claire insists on calling it: ‘broccoli’. But – and I know this for an absolute true fact because I spoke to a well-known greengrocer about it – broccoli does not exist. It is simply cauliflower with notions. It is cauliflower with ‘big ideas’. It is cauliflower which refuses to accept its limitations. It is cauliflower which has, by dint of its desire to be different, dyed itself green. In short, it is a cauliflower looking for notice.

I take a live-and-let-live attitude to all things – ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m the most easy-going person you could meet – but Claire decided she wanted broccoli for her wedding luncheon and not because, as she claimed, it was her favourite vegetable, but because she wanted to embarrass me in front of my country relations, none of whom would know broccoli from a bale of hay.

Rachel was the same for her wedding – wanting some non-existent things called sugar snap peas. And – get this – and me bould Rachel also wanted ‘a vegetarian option’, which I was mortified by. To offer ‘a vegetarian option’ to my relations was saying: (a) we can’t afford a meat dinner for all of you, and (b) we don’t want you here anyway.

K is for Knickers. I know what knickers are, of course I do. With five daughters, who all treated me like their personal laundress, of course I would.

However – without any prior warning – someone somewhere invented this new type of knicker called a G-string. But nobody told me, so when I was doing Rachel’s laundry, I thought I’d done something wrong. I thought I’d somehow ‘unravelled’ a good pair of black lace knickers, so that all of the front was gone, leaving only a bare string of a thing and most of the back was gone too. But no, she says. That’s the way it’s meant to be, and by the way, the bit you think is the front is actually the back.

It took me a long while to understand what she was saying and when I finally did I was disgusted. Why would anyone wear anything so uncomfortable? To be sexy, I suppose. Sexy, sexy, sexy, this whole world is obsessed with being sexy. Sexy sofas, sexy halibut, sexy reports on weapons of mass destruction!

Apparently, I have it all wrong – they wear G-strings to avoid VPL, nothing to do with being sexy. (Do they take me for an eejit?) Then, as if things weren’t confusing enough, they changed the name from G-strings to thongs.

Well, I have my own secret word for them. I call them ‘slicers’. I get a ‘salty’ feeling between my buttocks just thinking about them. And here’s some more news for you – you can still have VPL with Slicers, it’s just that the VPL is in a different place; it’s higher up. Sometimes, when I’m out and about, I do ‘mental surveys’ on the syndrome and Helen slaps me and tells me to stop staring at women’s arses.

But I’m not staring in ‘that way’. I’m simply interested, and what I find fascinating is that the dullest-looking woman could be sporting a Slicer. You know what I mean, she might have a ‘mammy hair-do’ and Ecco shoes and a pair of elasticated white linen trousers – and a black Slicer!

One more thing – why do they keep renaming things? Marathon was a fine name. Ulay was a fine name. Jif was a fine name. I’ve successfully made the – frankly challenging – transition to Snickers and Olay. But I will persist with calling ‘Cif’ ‘Jif’ till the day I die. ‘Jif’ was a perfect name. ‘Jif’ sounds speedy and efficient and full of ‘cleaning power’. ‘Cif’ is all wrong.

L is for Lad. A ‘slangy’ word for the male ‘member’. I’ve heard my daughters say it. ‘Flute’ is another one. And Mickey, Willie, dick, knob, quare fella, quare lad … there’s no end of terrible names. Joystick, there’s another one.

They ‘blithely’ talk away in front of me, all that dirty stuff, just like I’m not there. ‘How big is his lad?’ ‘I’d say he never washes his Mickey.’ ‘That flute of his has seen plenty of action.’

I am their mother! They have no respect.

L is also for Light Bulb. This is a joke that Claire told me. She says, ‘How many Mammy Walshes does it take to change a light bulb?’ ‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘How many Mammy Walshes does it take to change a light bulb?’ (I will admit I was ‘chuffed’ to have my name in a joke. Eejit, that I am, I should have known there would be a ‘sting’ in the ‘tail’.) ‘None!’ says Claire, and then her voice goes all ‘old’ and ‘quavery’ and I realize she’s ‘being’ me. ‘You all go on out and enjoy yourselves and I’ll just sit here in the dark.’

I wouldn’t mind but it’s not even true! I am great fun. I am always the last off the dance floor at a funeral.

M is for Mother. My mother, that is. Granny Maguire. A great woman she was. Knew her own mind and took nonsense from no one. She loved her six children fiercely but she loved me the most and she showed that love by not displaying it, if you know what I mean.

With Imelda it was, ‘Look at Imelda and the fine bit of cloth she got in the sale.’ Or with Audrey it was, ‘Audrey’s after getting a great job, doing filing for Boulton the solicitor.’ Whereas with me it was, ‘Mary, you useless gomaloon, you’ll never amount to anything.’ Or, ‘Mary, you’d better get used to living under my roof. Shur, what man would look at you and you as high as a house?’ It was like a secret code we had, so that the other girls didn’t feel left out.

With her black teeth, her pipe and her tendency for setting the dogs on a person, Mammy was a card. In later life she kept greyhounds and she loved them so much they slept in the bed with her. (Slept slept with her, according to Helen, but don’t mind her, she slanders everyone.)

As soon as you’d arrive at Mammy’s house, she’d open the door and she’d shout, ‘Go on, Gerry, go on, Martin, tear the face off of them.’ (She’d named the dogs after Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.)

I’d be barely out of the car and these two blurs would come racing over to me and pin me to the wall, barking loud enough to make my eardrums burst. Oh, it was an absolute howl, but after a while I stopped bringing my children because they aren’t as resilient as me.

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