Posted by: Vicky V | October 9, 2009

Socially Compromised Aunt Lesley Part 1

“Socially Compromised” is a label my mother gives her sister because she doesn’t understand her. I’m not saying I do, particularly, but at least I accept all that is different and, quite frankly, loveable about her. Every day she wears the same yellow and red striped Osh Kosh Bagosh dungarees left over from her days as member of a cult in Sao Paolo. Being a potter who loves cooking and animals, her cottage smells interestingly of clay, onions and bird food; like a damp restaurant with a pet shop above it. Above all, though, I love my Aunty L’s honesty. Or, as Dad likes to call it, “downright ruddy rudeness”.

Mum calls Aunty L everyday “just to check you haven’t fallen down the plughole”, and can expect 1 in 10 calls returned with a cursory “the plugholes in my gaff haven’t functioned since 1973 so stop worrying about me.”

But a bit like Henry Higgins, Mum won’t leave Aunty L alone until she has re-made her in her own image. To Mum, Lesley is a lab rat who needs to be prodded and poked regularly to see if she’ll come out into society and give us all a turn in “something other than those lesbian trousers”. She wants to introduce Aunty L to a nice middle aged man “someone who’s ten years younger than you so you die at the same time” and for Aunty L to get involved in a good game of boules with the villagers.

But my Aunt prefers solitary confinement with only her pet bird, homely but messy cottage and potters wheel, for company.

For all of Lesley’s protestations I privately think she likes being worried about. Otherwise she’d have moved further than the next village away from Mum. Not that being in a village serves any social function for my Aunt. She is an enigma to all its inhabitants because no one ever sees “the real Lesley”, instead making do with decorating their kitchens with her artwork and lines of crockery that are snapped up at the village craft shop like it’s a John Lewis clearance sale.

Mum thinks the pottery popularity is because my Aunt keeps such a low profile; “She’s like that Kate Moss. Never does an interview.” I think it’s because her pots are just really good; big, bold and colourful. Not the kind of thing you’d want thrown at you in a fight but just the kind of thing you’d buy for someone you really liked.

So about six months ago, my mother’s Henry Higgens persistence paid off. Aunty L agreed to have my mother host her sixtieth birthday at her very own cottage in the village, perhaps hoping that my mother would stop hassling her if she allowed her this one indulgence. On the condition that Aunty L wasn’t made to wear any “floral crap”, Mum went about instituting her “open house canapé cocktail bash”.

And all during the weekend I was slowly being ousted as Suze’s best friend by effing Gabriella.



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