Tuesday, 4 June 2013

When Gertrude met Herbert

Whilst Aunt Gertrude from Australia is staying with us for a while we thought it a good idea to invite Uncle Herbert from Dundee in Scotland to come and visit for a few days and meet her for the first time. She of course having emigrated to Australia all those years ago; or was she deported from Britain? I don’t know. Anyway … the two have never met.

Now most people tend to think before speaking. Not Auntie Gertrude. She has been fitted with a delay mechanism which makes her speak first and then a few moments later think about what she has just said.

Of course, when this occasionally happens to most people; they realize what they said and apologise, or quickly change the subject. Not Auntie Gertrude. When the delay mechanism makes her realize she said something wrong she continues talking without thinking and makes a bad situation worse.

Uncle Herbert on the other hand is a kind old soul who is always welcome with open arms whenever he visits us. This is because he is always carrying a bottle of the best single malt whisky, which I appreciate very much, as well as various well-chosen presents for the rest of the family. Generosity must have been his middle name when he was christened!

Unlike Auntie Gertrude whose presents from Australia were a few bags of boiled sweets from Adelaide as well as a half-drunk can of Foster’s amber nectar which she had opened on her flight to soothe a dry throat. Or so she said.

Don’t misunderstand me; she is a kind old lady really. But not from this planet somehow. She seems to live in a world of her own totally unaware of life around her.

No sooner had we welcomed Uncle Herbert and thanked him for all his presents than Auntie Gertrude’s delay mechanism came into effect.

We were all sitting in the large living room when Auntie opened her mouth and her stomach gurgled; as we say in our family when someone speaks without thinking.

Uncle Herbert, I should point out here, wears a hair-piece because he is somewhat self-conscious about his bald patch. It is not well-fitting but hey … he’s always worn it and no one has ever said anything about it.

Not Auntie Gertrude.

She started the conversation by asking “Was your wig expensive cobber?”

Uncle stuttered and said “Ehm … well … I … I …. I paid quite a sum for it, ye ken!”

One of the children innocently compounded the difficult situation by asking “What is a wig?” Fortunately the situation was defused by taking the children out to help prepare the dinner table for lunch.

I remained in the room with Uncle and Auntie. She was the first to speak and interrupt the awkward silence.

“The reason I ask,” she said, “is because in Adelaide they make them made to measure. They fit very well and you can’t tell it’s a wig!”

“I … I … I see. Aye …!” stuttered Uncle embarrassingly.

“If you want, I’ll order one for you and send it when I get back home!” she continued in her screeching Australian accent which has given me nightmares ever since she arrived, “all I need is your hat size cobber!”

I changed the subject by talking about the weather. Something which we often do in Britain when we have nothing else to say. It’s a neutral subject and more often than not leads people to agree on the matter.

“Oh it’s been pissing cats and dogs ever since I set foot here!” screeched Aunt Gertrude, “not like back home. It can be quite dry for months it can.”

Uncle and I mumbled and I was silently thankful that the conversation had moved on.

“What’s the weather like in Dundee?” she asked Uncle, “is it often windy? ‘Cos you’ll need a hat to stop your wig from flying off!”

What was I to do? I felt like screaming “For pity’s sake SHUT UP!!!” But you can’t be disrespectful to your old Auntie can you?

I changed the subject once again by asking if they wanted an aperitif before our meal which should be ready presently.

Well … as you’ve guessed, the refined relative from Australia asked for a can of Foster’s amber nectar; whereas Uncle and I enjoyed a drop of 12 years old single malt.

Thankfully, lunch proceeded peacefully and every one kept their hair on. But I’m sure it’s early times yet and Auntie will find other opportunities to embarrass herself, and us!


  1. This is too much! (your dear Aunt G needs to be put in a closet!)
    Victor, You could write a sitcom...
    I can't wait to read the next 'episode' of Aunt Gertrude & Uncle Herbert! Thanks for the laughs!!

    1. ps - love the family portrait!

    2. Thank you Hand-Maid. I hope there will be more stories about Aunt Gertrude and Uncle Herbert. Please keep visiting me here to check them out.

      Who knows ... perhaps a book even. Like all my other books I'll make it available FREE for my readers.

      They actually DO look exactly like their portraits.

      God bless.

  2. I like Auntie Gertrude, Victor. She tells it like it is - no airs and graces. And, I bet she's got a really cute accent. No plum to choke on, you see...

    As for Uncle Herbert, well, I think the world needs more Auntie Gertrudes to save him from being exploited by money-grabbing wig makers who prey on their victims' insecurities and turn them into figures of ridicule. Hopefully, by the end of your series, Auntie Gertrude will have sorted Uncle Herbert out and helped him become the confident, self-achiever he was supposed to be:)

    Oh, and the bit about the miserable presents - I think Auntie Gertrude was very subtly saving you all from the horrors of materialism in this superficial world of ours. Good, old Auntie Gertrude!

    God bless, Victor:-)

    1. You got Auntie Gertrude right, Vicky. She has no airs and graces and tells it as it is. Her accent is a bit like Dame Edna Everage and she looks like the picture at the top of this post. Round glasses always hanging down her nose; and she looks at people from on top of the spectacles to save wearing out the lenses.

      Uncle is an old type fellow wearing those thick tweed suits and a Scottish accent that you can't quite place. Not Glasgow or Edinbrugh, but distinctly Scottish.

      I have a feeling that Auntie will be the subject of other stories recorded here. Perhaps Uncle too, if she doesn't wear him out.

      God bless you, Vicky.

  3. Love it!! I knew this would be a good one and couldn't wait to read it! Thanks for the laugh, Victor!

    (Yes, please do write more stories about your Auntie :)

    1. My Auntie is driving me to distraction - I am well on my way to becoming a Saint.

      God bless you Mary.

  4. Poor Uncle Herbert. I do think that every family has its own Auntie Gertrude in it.

    1. Well, our Auntie Gertrude sometimes goes too far, Barbara.

      God bless.



God bless you.