I had a phone call today from an old friend I hadn’t seen for some time, a true Mrs Malaprop and one of the funniest people I know. She was calling to invite me to her wedding to a very nice man “who wasn’t after her big house” and she knew this because he had said so to her son at their engagement party. Like you do! He was also fifty-five to her seventy-eight, but she wasn’t one of those cougar mummies. Perish the thought! She’d only bothered getting engaged, because he “could put a great leg under him on the dance floor and good jivers are hard to find”. As I laughed at the image this conjured up, I recalled her divorce several years before when her solicitor had instructed a bannister. To my credit, I refrained from making the obvious crack about wooden performances and, wooden or not, Bannister-Boy did secure the big house in which her fiancé affected no interest. She was similarly excited the day her degree eyesight came through and I can still see her running down the street waving it triumphantly over her head and yelling that she would soon be divorced. She rang off eventually but not before issuing a dire warning that should her ex caused any trouble at the nuptials she would erope all over him. Think volcanoes.
She left me with a grin on my face and the memory of other funny incidents caused by mishearing what someone has said. Like, the day I sent my five-year-old son (many years ago) to close the front door on account of the draught and he returned livid because there was no giraffe. My ex husband routinely butchered the lyrics of one of Paul Young’s hits – “every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you”. On another memorable occasion, the florist said it with flowers by sending him packing with a flea in his ear. His crime? Asking for silly billies. To be fair, English was not his first language, but I have never since looked at a Bizzie Lizzie in the same way.
Nor am I exempt from wax build up in the ears. At mass, as a child, I regularly misheard “show us thine advocate” for show us thine advo cake. The advo cake never did materialise and if I’d known then what I know now, I’d have eroped all over the priest.