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 three weirdest things about my body

Tuesday’s blog post about my dream ankle boots made me think about my feet – so here are the three strangest things about my body. Get ready for some real weirdness…

3. Clown feet

I used to have the tiniest feet. My right foot was a size 3 and my left foot was a size 3 and a half, but I used to squash them into size 3 shoes, because it made them look cuter. Then, when I was modelling shoes for TopShop (a story for tomorrow’s blog), I would sneakily splay them out when getting measured, in order to model industry-standard size 4s. Anyhow, these were my feet:

My feet

They were so small and pretty with such high arches that, unknown to me, I was listed on a celebrity website for foot fetishists called Wikifeet! And one of the top Google searches under my name for a long time was ‘Ariane Sherine feet’.

Sadly my feet are not small and pretty any more. These days, I don’t like to draw attention to them.

Why?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I put on five stone. The extra weight I was carrying meant my feet swelled… to a size 7 and a half. A SIZE 7 AND A HALF! I would joke that this is more than double the length, but I think you know better.

Since then, my weight has yo-yoed up and down, and my feet have swelled and decreased along with it. I’ve never heard of this happening to anyone else. I’m currently a size 6, but chances are when I shrink, my feet will shrink along with me. If this sounds implausible, here are measurements of my flabby size 6 right foot today (weirdly, 23.5cm long, 23.5cm diameter at the widest part):

 [Big fat foot. I wouldn’t make it onto Wikifeet these days!]

[Yes, I do need to repaint my toenails. You’re quite right.]

Let’s see how long and wide my foot is after I lose another five stone. Hopefully not size 3, as I sold all my beautiful tiny size 3 shoes. (Though the proceeds went to charity, so at least someone benefited.)

Lesson: don’t put on loads of weight if you have nice feet.

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2. Ping pong ball in groin

Aged 17, I was doing a BTEC in Performing Arts (a very short-lived phase that lasted less than a term). I laughed too hard at a joke (probably my own, as they weren’t a funny bunch) and felt something pop out on the right side of my groin. After that, whenever I laughed or coughed, a ping pong ball-sized bulge appeared below my knicker line.

I went to the doctor and was referred to a consultant, who told me it was an ‘inguinal hernia’. Basically, a bit of my intestine had broken through the intestinal wall and was sticking out of the top of my lady garden. Nice!

I was going to have it treated but was too much of a wuss. I think it repaired itself eventually, as after about five years I couldn’t feel it anymore. If you were expecting Thai sex club connotations in this post, I can only apologise.

Lesson: never laugh too hard.

Hernia

1. Gill (for breathing underwater)

When I was a toddler, my mum noticed a lump on the right-hand side of my neck and took me to the doctor, thinking I had neck cancer. The doctor examined me and said ‘That’s not neck cancer – it’s a gill!’

‘A gill?!’ my mother asked, baffled.

‘Yes,’ came the reply, ‘a vestigial gill from the days when humans used to breathe underwater.’

My mum, you and everyone else could be forgiven for replying ‘WTAF?!’

When the delightful and charming kids at primary school asked what the lump was, and I replied ‘a gill’, they said they were going to hold me underwater and see if I could breathe through my gill.

These days, when anyone asks me about the lump (it’s not very noticeable and about the size of a lump of fudge), I tell them about the gill, then launch into The Temptations’ song: ‘Talkin’ bout my gill – my gill!’ 

And then I ask them if they want to feel the gill, and they invariably do. They feel it and then they go ‘ooh!’ in surprise at the squidgy lump between their fingers. My best friend described it as ‘very exciting’, but then he doesn’t get out much.

[The gill is the slightly raised discoloured bit below the mole.]

When I was in my teens, a GP asked if I wanted to have the gill removed, but I said no – because why have surgery when there’s no need? It doesn’t bother me. I’ve never found out why the lump is there, but the original doctor’s ‘gill’ explanation isn’t substantiated online. It may just be a lipoma. Still, the ‘gill’ theory seems more rational than my Asian grandmother’s:

‘When God was making you out of clay, he had an extra bit left over, so he put it on your neck.’ [Couldn’t he have made my boobs bigger instead?]

And that’s before we get to the amazingly racist bit:

‘White people were baked in God’s oven for too short a time, black people were baked for too long, but Asian people were baked just right.’

Sounds like a half-baked theory to me.

Lesson: If clay left over, put on boobs.

PS: Apparently my nan’s batshit insane theory is a very ancient myth from all kinds of beige and brown people.

PPS Science actually says my nan was half-right when she told me complete bollocks.

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THE GREAT WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE!

Day 24

Me: 12st 5.4lbs (total loss in 24 days: 8.8lbs)

I had the runs yesterday. John texted: ‘Getting the squits is cheating!’

John: 14st 3.25lbs (total loss in 24 days: 4.25lbs)

John is very kindly plugging my latest book. 26 five-star reviews can’t be wrong!

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 first time I went clubbing

When I was 14, I got my first ever boyfriend. We weren’t serious, at least not compared to my long-term relationship with the next boyfriend I had, which lasted on and off from ages 15 to 22.

My first boyfriend was 19 years old, and was my best friend’s boyfriend’s best friend. (You might need to read that sentence a few times.) We only dated for a few months, and I thought I was in love, but in retrospect I wasn’t.

My boyfriend had a car and a job, which I thought was amazing. No one else I knew had a car or a job! (Except for my parents and other very old people.) The girls at school teased me, saying I’d invented an imaginary boyfriend, but I didn’t care. My boyfriend was real, he was mine and he had a car and a job, so they could all go sit on a shitty stick and swivel.

One day, my boyfriend (I’ll call him Dean, as that was not his name), my best friend Anna and her boyfriend Keith all went to a club. I was positively fizzing with excitement. A club! I’d heard about clubs and clubbing from the girls at school.

‘I bet you’ve never been to a club,’ they’d say to me loftily. ‘I bet you don’t even know what one is.’

‘Shut up! I do so know what one is,’ I’d retort, even though I didn’t really.

But now, for the first time, I was going to a real proper nightclub. It was called The Odyssey, and was at the end of Eastbourne Pier in East Sussex, where Anna, Keith and Dean all lived.

The only Odyssey I’d ever heard of was the one we’d studied in Classical Civilisation at school. The name conjured up images of adventure, daring deeds and excitement. I couldn’t wait to find out what it was all about.

me-leather-jacket.png[At 18, the age the bouncers presumably thought I was.]

So I dressed up to the nines, plastered my face with makeup and walked into The Odyssey with the others. I couldn’t quite believe the bouncers had let me in.

The Odyssey, it turned out, was dimly lit inside. There was some thumping music playing, and lots of girls standing around in tiny dresses and high heels, while the guys were wearing shirts and smart jeans. We stood by the bar. The guys I was with drank beer, and I drank orange juice (I was never much of a drinker, especially not at 14).

‘When’s it going to start?’ I shouted to Dean, over the pumping music. It seemed unnecessarily loud and prohibitive to conversation.

Dean looked at his watch. ‘It’s not even 10pm,’ he shouted back. ‘It’ll get busier and there’ll be a lot more people by 11pm.’

‘And then it’ll start?’ I yelled.

He looked puzzled. ‘Well, it’ll get busier.’

‘Yeah,’ I shouted, confused, ‘but then what happens?’

He frowned. ‘People will start dancing.’

I stared at him in total disillusionment and indignance, the penny finally dropping: ‘So you mean it’s just a disco with alcohol?!’

He laughed: ‘Yeah.’

I couldn’t believe it. All that hype at school about nightclubs, and they were nothing more than discos! As for the ‘Odyssey’, I thought, Homer would have been appalled that his epic poem had been bastardised in such a prosaic way.

I sighed. ‘When can I go home?’

me-polaroid[Me, aged 18.]

THE GREAT WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE!

Day 23

Me: 12st 6.6lbs (total loss in 23 days: 7.6lbs)

I was thrilled to receive these two awards last night at Slimming World! Slimmer of the Week is a big achievement. I also got my 1 stone award (I’ve lost 2 stone this year, one of them with Slimming World).

John: 14st 3.75lbs (total loss in 23 days: 3.75lbs)

Not only is he putting on weight but the toenail is back!

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 (which is just 20p a week). It’s like this blog, but EVEN BETTER!