Subscribe by RSS

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Old fossils

I have no idea why god created courgettes. Maybe it was his idea of a joke. "Hey listen guys, I'm going to make millions of slimy long green things on this planet called Earth. Then I'll create TV chefs and make them tell people they're edible. Watch this. It'll be a laugh."

Sure enough, 13.8 billion years later he's buggered off to the twilight zone or somewhere, but his joke's still going strong. Everybody's eating courgettes like there's no tomorrow. Except me. Even if you slap them on garlicked toast and call it bruschetta, they're still inedible lumps of semi-sentient slime. Would you eat slugs on toast? Course you wouldn't. 

So while Linda and my sis are getting outside some tasty-looking pizzas in Paperino's, which I'd declined because so much food at lunchtime would dull the razor sharpness of my brain in the afternoon and make me lose my train of thought at key moments ...

Where was I? Courgettes, pizzas, sis, Linda. Right. So I'm pushing the so-called food around my plate hoping the nice waiter, who'd organised a light veggy bite for me that wasn't on the menu, won't notice I'm not eating it, when Linda tells us a story about a one-liner of hers that went wrong.

Now I've heard similar tales from friends who are quick-witted and funny. Folk take offence sometimes at things they say. They don't see the funny side. And the older they are, the more likely they seem to be to get the hump instead of the joke.  

"Old folk don't like humour where somebody is the butt of the joke, according to recent research," I tell her. "Young folk do." 

A large forkful of calzone stalls halfway to her mouth, as her active brain gets to work on this new information. "I wonder if that's an effect of ageing that happens to all of us," she says. "Or a difference in the culture the older generation grew up in." 

"Exactly the question they're trying to answer now," I tell her.

"If we lived in China we'd get some respect," my sis says, getting on to one of her pet peeves. "Makes me mad the way people talk to me, now I'm not so young. The other day the boy in the computer shop was telling me how to install some software and he turns to the man beside me, who I don't even know, and says, 'You can explain it to her when you get home.'"

She seethes for a second, her fists clenching, then comes out with the strongest word in her vocabulary. "Cheeky little ... SHIT!"

"I pat her sympathetically on the shoulder, and she turns on me. "Don't you dare tell me to calm down, dear," she says.
"As if I would," I tell her, swallowing precisely those words and turning back to my green slime on toast.

"See, where you're going wrong is doing one-liners," I tell Linda. "Traditional jokes don't upset people. Guy walks into the doctor's, with a banana in one ear, a courgette in the other and a carrot up his nose. He says 'Give it to me straight doc, what's wrong?' 

"The doctor looks at him and says, 'You need to start eating more sensibly.'" 

Linda studies me like I'm a half-cooked courgette.  "That's not funny," she says.

"Maybe not but nobody's upset," I say. "One of the social skills you learn as you get older is how to spare people's feelings."

"So where are you going now?" she says, as I get up to leave.

"The Fossil Grove down in Victoria Park," I say. "We're writing a story about it. 330 million-year-old trees turned to stoneAmazing place. I remember seeing the fossils for the first time when I was young."  

"What age were you?" she says. 

"About 20," I say.

"Weren't they still trees then?" she says, and I realise my sage advice has fallen on deaf ears again.

No comments:

Post a Comment