Last week I published part one of my sitcom-worthy family stories… today is part two!
I’ve got tales of eating other people’s cake, my dad in his underpants on a boat and (I’m so sorry) childhood vomiting stories. If you didn’t catch last week’s stories (part one), you may want to catch up by reading them first here… or just bookmark it for later. More of the same, more stories that have become legendary tales in my family.
As I mentioned last time they’re all as I remember them – they’ve probably been a little distorted over time with countless telling and retelling. I’m sure other family members will correct me on certain details, but I like to tell them in my own words.
And also as before the photos don’t have any real relevance to the stories, they’re just fillers…!
Enjoy : -)
(Read stories 1-5 here)
6. “Decorating” Brown Owl’s handbag
I’m sure most parents have a story to tell about their child that involves (apologies in advance) vomit, but this time, for me, neither parent was actually there.
As a child I was in the Brownies (Girl Scouts equivalent I think, I was about 8), and we had a lovely group leader called Brown Owl. (I always think “oh, poor Brown Owl…” and wince whenever I think back on this story). I also used to go to swimming lessons a couple of times a week… what can I say, I was a busy child.
One week we had an after-school Brownies excursion to Reading police station – don’t ask me why they were taking a group of pre-pubescent girls to a police station, I have no idea what they were trying to frighten us into NOT doing or becoming – and it happened to fall on the same night as swimming. Luckily (not so lucky as it happens) there was a 30-minute window between the two, so my mum had time to pick me up from swimming and dash me to the police station for the trip.
Unfortunately, she used that half hour window to feed me. You can imagine how quick it had to be, so she’d prepared some peanut butter sandwiches (which were my FAVOURITE) in advance. I honestly think I was made of peanut butter sarnies, the amount of them I ate as a kid.
Picked up from swimming. Sandwiches eaten in the car as we drove to the police station. Jumped out and dropped off with the other Brownies. All good.
Except… I wasn’t feeling great. This is where my facts are a bit hazy, but I think I told mum I felt a bit sick. And of course, like any good parent, I was told You’re fine, I’ll pick you up later! Off you go. So she left me with Brown Owl, and we started the tour of the police station.
I must have continued to protest my feelings of nausea because at some point I found myself being led down a corridor to the ladies toilets, Brown Owl holding my hand. Now what you need to know is that I was one of those children who couldn’t just “neatly” throw up in front of myself or somewhere discreet (can ANY child?!). Oh no, I had to throw up ON something. (I’d thrown up in my mother’s lap on a long distance flight before – BEFORE the plane took off. She really enjoyed that flight.)
Before we reached the toilets, as the vomit started to make its way up inside me, I obviously looked around and thought, What is there that I can throw up on? I know – Brown Owl’s handbag. I’ll throw up on (or maybe IN) Brown Owl’s handbag.
The last bit I remember is standing at the sinks in the ladies’ toilets, sobbing my eyes out and saying I’m sorry, I’m really sorry…, Brown Owl sponging down her handbag. (I can imagine she got straight home and ditched it.) Bless her, she was ALWAYS nice to me, even after the event now known as The Vomit in Reading Police Station Debacle. Poor, poor Brown Owl.
7. The fruit smoothie in the car
About 20 years ago I’d been shopping with an ex, and we made our way back to our parked car in the car park. Average day, nothing exciting, we’d bought a couple of smoothies to have before driving home.
We got ourselves settled in the car and decided to have the smoothies before driving home. He passed me mine, he started to drink his.
Now I don’t know about you, but I ALWAYS shake smoothies – and most non-fizzy drinks – before drinking them. A vigorous shake to mix up the contents before consuming.
What he DIDN’T tell me (or maybe he did but I was distracted or chatting or something, not my fault) was that he’d unscrewed the lid for me and just rested it back on top. At this moment in time, I want to say WHO DOES THAT?!
I gave it a good hard shake, and of course the smoothie went EVERYWHERE. I created a whirling spray pattern of smoothie that reached every nook and cranny in the car: seats, roof, floor, dashboard, my hair, my clothes – everything was covered. I sat there, almost-empty smoothie bottle in my hand, stunned at the ability of a small portion of blended fruits and vegetables to decorate SUCH an incredibly small space.
One lonesome tissue in my bag didn’t do much to clean it up. We drove the 20-odd minutes home in almost stunned silence, and the car smelt of mangoes and bananas for quite a while. Moral of the story: check your lids before shaking, people…!
8. Dad in his underpants on the boat
This is the stuff of legend in our family: every family, I think, has THE story that they like to tell. This is that story.
When I was young (I’m the youngest of four, and there’s a 10 year gap between me and the next sibling, so my brother and sisters were quite a bit older than me) we used to go on barge holidays quite a lot. The Grand Union Canal, the Llangollen Canal, we did them all. They were great fun, and there was always about 8-10 of us with various aunts, uncles or friends as well.
One year, when I was about 12, we did a river holiday (the Severn) for a change from the canals. My best friend from school came, my brother and his girlfriend came, my parents, my sister, aunt, uncle and so on. You still get a barge (the long traditional wooden types that go about a mile an hour, steered from the back). The difference between navigating rivers and canals is that a river can be wider than a canal so the chances of getting stuck in shallow parts – as, unlike canals, rivers are not manmade – is greater.
One day, we got stuck. The barge would NOT move. You’re provided with a huge pole for pushing the barge out from the edge or to from somewhere you’re stuck (hence the phrase, “I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole”), but this time it wasn’t helping. We were well and truly stuck – and much too far from the riverbank to jump across or push ourselves from there.
So what you normally do in these situations is you wait till another boat comes along, they see that you’re stuck, and they help pull you out. So we waited.
And we waited. And we waited.
And then we waited some more. After probably about an HOUR of waiting, my dad decided that we had to rescue ourselves, so he hatched a plan.
The plan was that he would swim across to the riverbank and go and get help (he was in his 50s at this time, but still a very fit man) – we could see a pub in the distance so there’d surely be someone there who could help us.
So that he wouldn’t swim across in wet clothes, he took off his clothes down to his pants (US/Canadian readers: that’s his underpants), and tied them into a ball. He’d toss the ball of clothes onto the riverbank, swim across, put on his dry clothes, and get help.
It was already amusing us that Dad was stood at the end of the barge in nothing but his pants, ready to swim across.
Ready? Yes. He tossed the ball of clothes over to the riverbank. But literally as he did so he looked underneath his arm, and what should start coming around the corner?
That’s right – ANOTHER BOAT.
As you can imagine we absolutely lost it. Dad was in just his pants, but his clothes were on the riverbank. He’d thrown across his only pair of trousers he’d brought on holiday – a pair of jeans – and now he had no other trousers to put back on (of course, HE had to do the negotiating with the boat coming around the corner. He definitely wasn’t the type to hide inside the boat in situations like this).
My brother – of similar build to my dad but a couple of sizes smaller – offered him a pair of his own jeans. Dad was forced to squeeze himself into my brother’s jeans, which of course made us howl with laughter even more.
I can remember him talking to the people in the other boat (who, by the way, weren’t particularly helpful or amused), sucked into the tightest jeans you ever saw, trying to be all cool about the fact that he was a middle-aged man wearing skinny, light wash 80s jeans. We eventually got pulled out, we chugged along to where the bank was closer, and we jumped out and ran back for his pile of clothes.
I’m not sure when we ever stopped laughing. Stuff of LEGEND.
9. Riley embarrassing us on the beach
A couple of years ago Keith and I took Riley to the beautiful St. Agnes in Cornwall for a week, and we stayed in a little cottage right on the beachfront. It was absolutely idyllic, and the beach is large and in a bay, mostly pebbles but with a large expanse of sand when the tide is out. It was wonderful.
We were walking Riley on the beach one day. There were lots of people around and dogs running everywhere. Riley, being the slow, gentle soul that he is, attracted the attention of a photographer who was obviously there to take shots of dogs on the beach. I was down near the water’s edge with Riley, and Keith was further back up the beach, also taking photos.
Being slow and elegant, Riley attracted the chap’s attention, and he turned his camera towards our boy and started shooting. I was such a proud doggy mum.
Well I WAS, until Riley thought this would be THE moment to take a dump – right there in front of him. Aghast, I went over to him, trying to get a poo bag out of my pocket, all the time apologising to the photographer. Luckily he found it highly amusing… I’m sure it happens all the time to him.
Trouble was, Riley’s timing was even worse than that: he started to crouch right near the water’s edge, just as the tide came rushing in. I don’t think he’d anticipated that, because as he was doing the deed he was suddenly up to his knees (do dogs have knees?!) in water – but it was too late for him to change his mind. It (you know what I mean by “it”) hit the water.
Unfortunately I wasn’t wearing welly boots, I was wearing waterproof Chelsea boots, which were nowhere near tall enough to wade into the water. So as the tide rushed back out, it took the offending turd out with it. (I apologise profusely if you’re eating.) By this point I was thoroughly embarrassed, and I was trying to chase a floating turd, my poo bag in hand ready to catch it.
I turned back to see if Keith had seen any of this, only to see him doubled up laughing. Yep, he’d seen it all.
In the end I had to give up and let nature take its course with the offensive item – there was no way I was going to catch it. I just hoped to goodness that no surfers came into contact with it that day, or any day. I’m so sorry, dudes.
10. Trying to get a smear test at the vet
This was a recent one (in the last few months) and REALLY embarrassing.
I had to phone the vet and book Riley a checkup appointment. Done.
I then also had to phone the doctor’s and book myself in for a routine cervical smear test, so I did that straight after. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Oh hello, I’m ringing to book a smear test please.
Receptionist: Okay, can I take your surname?
Me: Summers. S – U – M – M – E – R – S.
Receptionist: And the first name?
Me: Catherine, with a “C”.
Receptionist: Erm okay, I can’t find any details for you… what was the name again?[Repeat of above]
Me: I did register only very recently as we moved house, would the address help?
Receptionist: Er no, let me look again.[A bit of a pause while she continued to search for me on the system.]
Me: Dr. Smith is my doctor if that helps?
Receptionist: Er… this is the veterinary surgery…? What was it you were calling for again?
At this point, I realised that I had been trying to book myself in for a smear test WITH THE VET’S. I must have missed what she said when she answered the phone, and she must have missed me saying that I needed to book a smear test. Or at least I hoped she missed that bit, because if she heard that then I’m a LITTLE bit worried.
Suffice to say I went on and on about Oh god I’m so sorry, I rang the wrong number, I was trying to book myself in for a smear test (yes, I went the whole hog in explaining my mistake, as you do) and the conversation ended VERY awkwardly. I can imagine she went home that evening and told her other half, You’ll never guess what someone rang the surgery for today…
11. Eating that other family’s birthday cake
This is one of my favourite family stories – it ALWAYS ends in people clapping their hands over their mouths when we tell it as they can only imagine the total and utter awkwardness of that day.
It was my eldest niece’s 18th birthday party, and the family decided to go out for a nice pub lunch. There were a LOT of us, and we were all sat along a large rectangular table they’d reserved for us. We’d had a lovely carvery and were feeling quite full.
Just after the staff cleared away our plates, one of them came over to us (I can’t remember who she spoke to, I think it was my mum and I as we were sitting next to each other?) and asked about the birthday cake: Do we want to have it now as they’ll bring it in with candles, sing happy birthday etc.?
Mum and I looked at each other, and as my sister (my niece’s mum) was sat at the other end of the table we said Oh, yes please!, assuming that my sister had arranged a birthday cake for her and given it to the staff on her arrival at the pub.
A short while later the staff bring in the cake, candles lit, and we all sing “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you…”. My niece is thrilled: a fabulous birthday cake just for her! She starts cutting it and handing round the pieces to everyone.
Just as we started to tuck into our slices of cake, one of the members of staff comes scurrying over to us (I can’t remember who she spoke to, but we were all craning our necks to hear as she looked REALLY worried) and tells us that they’ve made a TERRIBLE mistake.
The mistake? THAT WASN’T OUR BIRTHDAY CAKE. It had been brought in by another family that were sitting across from us in the pub restaurant.
By this time the word had got round the whole table that were eating someone else’s birthday cake – of course mum and I thought that my sister had arranged it. My sister thought that WE had arranged it. (Dad and Keith were clueless of course, men just go along with anything and never know about gift buying or Who Got The Cake.) My niece thought that her mum had arranged it. Everyone assumed that someone else in the family had arranged it. The staff told us it was our cake, why would we question otherwise?
Of course that left us with the excruciatingly awkward situation of putting the uneaten slices “back” on the cake, and letting the staff take it away. By that point the mood had WELL and truly been killed, but anyone that knows my family won’t be surprised to hear that we started giggling (I’m ashamed to say we started to laugh, but it WAS funny), and in the end we had to get up and leave really quickly so that the other family didn’t see us lose it.
(Oh, who am I kidding, of COURSE they saw us killing ourselves laughing.)
I wouldn’t have liked to have been the member of staff who had to explain to the other family that they’d given their cake to the wrong table – and that they’d started eating it. Let’s hope they got a free meal out of it…!
WHAT’S THE MOST HILARIOUS SITCOM-STYLE STORY THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? TELL US IN THE COMMENTS!