Why I had the world’s most embarrassing parents

Every kid thinks their parents are embarrassing, but I’m fairly sure that mine actually were the most embarrassing parents in the world during my childhood. Here are my reasons:

The bottle of wee

When I was about 11, my mum decided she would start fertilising her allotment with urine. There was therefore a bottle of urine in the tiny upstairs toilet that we were meant to wee into instead of weeing into the loo.

(The actual loo was for poos only, and thank heavens my mum didn’t decide to fertilise the allotment with human excrement too, though I wouldn’t have put it past her. Instead, she made my dad and I go to the local riding stables at the weekends to shovel horse poo into bags, which she then fertilised the allotment with instead. What fun!)

Anyhow, I didn’t really mind giving a urine sample every time I needed to pee. In the long list of my parents’ parenting fails, it was pretty near the bottom.

What I did mind was that, one of the few times I got someone from school to agree to come round, my mother asked the girl pleasantly, ‘If you go to the toilet, please could you pee into the plastic bottle provided?’

Of course, the girl promptly went back to school and informed everyone she’d been made to wee into a bottle at mine. This got translated into ‘Don’t go round Ariane’s house – her mum’s taking the piss!’

As if I hadn’t already been bullied enough…

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The clapped-out old banger

My parents owned a filthy white 1960s Peugeot 404 that didn’t so much glide as bounce, wheeze and sputter down the road. It was the sort of dirty where people would write ‘Clean Me’ with their finger in the grime.

The car was basically half-dead and would always refuse to start, so each time my mum collected me from primary school, she would have to open the bonnet, then whack the fan with an ancient wooden tennis racket in order to get the engine going.

Cue snotty small children boasting ‘My dad has a Mercedes-Benz. Your dad can’t even afford a proper car! Or a proper tennis racket.’

When the second-hand (or more like tenth-hand) Peugeot finally packed up for good, my dad bought another second-hand car: a Saab 900. It was so long, it was impossible to park, and my dad would go round trying and failing to reverse into parking spaces while swearing under his breath in German. (He used to live in Germany, and possibly thought it was more acceptable to swear in front of small children in a language we couldn’t understand.)

peugeot [A Peugeot 404, though ours was much dirtier.]

Then there’s the small matter of the Nazi jeep my dad built in our garage, though I’ll save that for the memoir.

The terrible clothes

Looking back, my dad’s clothes really weren’t that bad. The main cringe factor for me was that he always, always wore a black or navy corduroy Lenin cap. I have no idea why, because he had hair up until the very end.

The kids at school would tease me because he wore the cap, and call him a ‘gippo’ (though not to his face, because he was 6’4″ and prone to violence and would have ended them).

He also always wore a white vest. He had the slightly excruciating habit of scratching his skin until it bled, so his white vests were always covered in faded brown bloodstains.

Oh, and in the late 1980s he went through a phase of wearing bright fluorescent trainers… with a dark suit jacket and black trousers. It was not the best look.

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My dad’s Unmanageable Penis Syndrome (and other embarrassing habits)

I don’t think my dad actually ever wore deodorant. I certainly never saw him apply any. He always smelt of soap, so he did wash under his arms, but the soapy smell was mingled with a kind of musky body odour. I’m not sure he ever showered either.

I didn’t mind my dad’s body odour – it was at least fresh, and I thought he smelt quite nice, certainly better than the overpowering aftershave of some dads – but I did mind his other personal hygiene habits.

At home, I was always walking in on him washing his willy in the bathroom sink (there was no lock on the bathroom door). I would back out apologising as he swore and muttered. I reckon he used the sink for all his washing – no idea why.

When driving on the school run, with three other girls from school sitting in the back of the car, my dad would fuss with his willy through his trousers. He wouldn’t actually take it out, thank the good Lord, but he would prod it around and have a good old rummage.

My parents would walk around naked occasionally (they were in their teens and twenties in the 1960s) so I have the unfortunate knowledge that my dad was rather well-endowed (bit of sick in my mouth here), and I guess his trousers were always too tight for this reason.

I would sit there cringing as he manhandled himself in front of the girls from school. He was presumably shunting his willy into a less constricted position (my best male friend refers to this euphemistically as ‘comfort issues’).

I think perhaps my dad should have claimed Scottish heritage, invested in a kilt and gone commando. I would genuinely have rather he’d done that than foraged in his crotch all morning, as it was the bane of my life – and that’s before we get to him proudly letting out loud farts in the street.

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And the rest…

This blog post would be very long if I listed all my parents’ cringeworthy habits, so I’ll leave it there. If your parents did anything that can rival mine, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

THE GREAT WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE!

Day 26

Me: 12st 6.4lbs (total loss in 26 days: 7.8lbs)

Oops…

John: 14st 6.5lbs (total loss in 26 days: 1lb)

I have no idea what John ate yesterday to cause a 3lb gain. My guess is an entire elephant.

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Ricky Steer, Marc Alexander, Chris Birkett, John Fleming, Mary Clarke, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, Musical Comedy Guide, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Graham Nunn, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

They receive a whole host of exciting rewards in addition to this credit, including my secret never-published fiction and top secret photos! If you enjoyed this post, please support me on Patreon. 

Rewards start from just $1 a month, which is 85p in real money and gets you access to my weekly Patreon email. It’s like this blog, but EVEN BETTER!

The day I was in a horrific car crash

In 2004, when I was 23, my parents helped me get a mortgage on a flat. They were shitty parents on many levels – my dad was often violent and abusive and my mum was often neglectful and cold – but they helped me financially several times, and for that I was very grateful. In my less charitable moments, I think it was a guilt thing – they knew that they had messed up as parents, and were compensating for it by way of financial handouts. In my more charitable moments, I love them for their generosity, and feel sad for all of us that they were unable to form the kind of amazing emotional bond with me that I have with my daughter.

Anyhow, the place they helped me buy was a one bedroom flat in a dilapidated block in Camden Town – weirdly, my dad had actually lived in the same block in the 1970s before marrying my mum (although not in the same flat) – and despite help with the deposit, I had a huge mortgage. It would have been a real stretch for me to pay it all, as I was a fledgling writer on about £10,000 a year. So I suggested to my best friend Graham that he move down to London and live with me – and he excitedly agreed. It was decided that we would turn my living room into a bedroom and he would rent it off me.

I travelled up to Woodbridge, where Graham lived with his mum. He had packed all his stuff in bubble wrap, ready for the big move. We woke up super-early the next day, loaded the car and planned to set off down the A12. We were aiming to reach London a few hours later, get the keys from the estate agent and move into our tiny new flat. Graham and I were both big fans of Suede – my first boyfriend had got me into them by making me a mixtape of their first two albums – and so we put on their second album Dog Man Star to listen to while driving along.

The roads were very quiet as it was so early in the morning. Unfortunately, as we turned onto the A12 towards Colchester, a huge articulated lorry also came onto the A12 from the roundabout, trying to move into the inside lane. He didn’t see us, and though Graham tried to outrun him, he clipped the back end of Graham’s Peugeot 206. The car spun round and the lorry smashed into the front of it – I remember screaming as it skittered in slow motion – and then it bounced off the central reservation to face the oncoming traffic. If there’d been a car coming, I doubt I’d be around to type this now.

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Luckily, the A12 was clear. I was in shock and screaming ‘Fuck, fuck, oh my God, oh my God!’. Graham was yelling, ‘My stuff, my stuff!’. I shouted at him, ‘Fuck your stuff, we could have died!’ Then I tried to call another friend and tell him what had happened, but he thought I was joking, so I told him to fuck off too. The lorry driver said ‘Sorry mate, my fault, I didn’t see you there.’ The police turned up. The car was an absolute write-off.

But the weirdest thing was the Suede CD, Dog Man Star. It had been playing track 7 (‘New Generation’) but the impact of the crash made it skip back to track 5 (‘Daddy’s Speeding’) as Graham was manoeuvring the wrecked car into the lay-by. And the eeriest single line blared loudly out of the stereo – ‘Crashed the car and left us here.’ 

It was clearly a coincidence – but what a freaky coincidence. It’s the sort of thing that convinces gullible people to be religious. However, I was quite a big Suede fan, but not so big that I believed Brett Anderson was God or Satan.

Needless to say, Graham didn’t move in with me that day. I made it back to London on my own, and sat in my empty new flat, crying. It was such a shocking, anticlimactic way to start my new life.

But at least I still had one.

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THE GREAT WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE!

Day 21

Me: 12st 8.4lbs (total loss in 21 days: 5.8lbs)

Given how much dim sum we ate at John’s birthday dinner, I think this is quite respectable!

John: 14st 2.5lbs (total loss in 21 days: 5lbs)

John has wisely decided to hide his fungal toenail until it’s sorted out. I think it’s for the best.

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Ricky Steer, Chris Birkett, John Fleming, Mary Clarke, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, Musical Comedy Guide, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Graham Nunn, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

They receive a whole host of exciting rewards in addition to this credit, including my secret never-published fiction and top secret photos! If you enjoyed this post, please support me on Patreon. 

Rewards start from just $1 a month, which is 85p in real money and gets you access to my weekly Patreon email. It’s like this blog, but EVEN BETTER!