Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The most unfortunate Uncle Jack

I’d heard of him before. Uncle Jack. The one everyone refers to as the ‘Black Sheep’ in quiet tones at the end of the Christmas lunch table. He was my mother’s great uncle, brother of her granny (my great grandmother.) My mother’s side is prone to snobbery, I fear, as this story will illustrate.

Oh, wait, let me catch you up. We went to dinner last night at a shush jush juj smart hotel in town with my uncle (mum’s brother) and aunt who are in town for a short stay from up in the wilds of Africa. My parents are still looking for turkeys (I hope) in Turkey so I dragged G along, hoping that not too many dark family secrets would be discussed. Fat chance.

My beloved uncle, after getting us drinks, and catching up on current family affairs, launched into the Uncle Jack story with glee, allowing me to tell the one I know first, and then trumping me with a second one.

The one I know:

Uncle Jack was always a ‘bit of a strange bloke’ and had some social problems that the family couldn’t abide so that, at some stage, they all lost contact. There is a time in Uncle Jack’s life that seems a little hazy (probably was for him too, by the sounds of things) and nobody knew where he was for some years.

Then Great Granny C went shopping, to the smart department store (we’re probably talking late 1940’s, early 50’s here – the time of kid gloves and hats being worn to go shopping) in The Big Smoke. The one with the elevator, into which she primly stepped to go upstairs (I wonder what she was going to buy… frilly knickers?) The lift man asked her which floor and she looked up… into the face of Uncle Jack.

“First floor, please,” she said politely. And no more. She stepped out on the first floor and went off to buy her frilly knickers (I assume), not even glancing back.

Isn’t that terrible?

Then my uncle told his story:

One Christmas… we’re a family that likes Christmas, and do the full deal ALWAYS, despite the sweltering African heat at that time of year. Nothing will stop us from roasted turkey, replete (is that the right word?) with stuffing, all the roasted vegetables, chipolatas, a Christmas pudding drunk on brandy from being fed it for at least three months before, lit and coin-infested.

Anyway, yes, so one such day, many many moons ago, before Uncle Jack ‘disappeared’, they all sat around the table, Christmas hats on heads etc. It came time for the flaming pudding and Uncle Jack was serving it when the family cat came mewling around his legs. Uncle Jack, poor guy, tapped the mewling, twisting cat on its little cat nose and the cat promptly stopped mewling and fell over. Dead.

What more can you say but: Oops?


allie said...

I have often wondered how to spell J (as in French: 'jolie') u J (as ditto).
Its a lovely expressive word and it
frustrates me that I can't use it.

Bitchily, I am glad you have the same trouble :-)
IF some smart person rescues you, please share, ok?

As for me (re Uncle Jack stories) I dont think the other story trumps yours: I think the lift incident is horrendous.

But a wonderful basic idea for a real short story, isn't it?

Shiny said...

Allie - we need to find someone French, don't we? Hopefully not snobbish, though. It is, indeed a good idea for a short story! x