Thursday, 19 April 2012

Who do you think you are?

Well, I haven’t managed to channel my great-great-grandmothers today.  As much as I would like to claim that I achieved a zen-like state of this too shall pass-ness, it really wouldn’t be true.  Thomas has been unrelentingly vile all day.  But then again I have been fairly vile myself so we are probably about even.  The cause of all the trouble is currently snoozing contentedly upstairs, having reduced the entire household to a state of yelling, snarling, bickering bad temper by his inability to nap for more than twenty minutes at a time.  This was, as usual, my fault.  By two o’clock he had been wailing for three hours and had reached the kind of level of gibbering, incoherent rage usually only achievable by the withdrawal of illegal substances.

Our outing for the day was to the doctors where mild reflux was diagnosed.  I would imagine the GP was also making a private diagnosis of “chronic naughtiness” regarding Thomas whose behaviour is probably best left to the imagination.  The imagination can’t possibly be as bad as the reality.

When we got home, Ben decided to take a short breather from the unrelenting noise-making, and kicked back on his playmat for a while, chewing contemplatively on the tentacle of a squeaky octopus and watching television.  When the red mist cleared a little I realised that he was watching Jeremy Kyle USA.

I let him get on with it.  
Unfortunately, Mr Kyle clearly wasn’t shouting enough to hold his attention as he fairly soon relapsed into a state of noisy misery where he remained until 8.15pm when he finally gave up the fight and fell asleep, leaving me to take stock of the fallout from a day of pretty much leaving Thomas to his own devices, apart from the occasional shriek of  “Will you just stop it!” or “I said NOOOOO!”

There is a toy shopping trolley loaded with baby clothes in the fireplace.  The floor under the table has been liberally decorated with squashed carrot.  Every piece of lego has been pulled out and scattered through the house like confetti.  A camper van has been involved in a freak upside-down accident in the depths of the beanbag.  And everywhere I look there are little plastic people glaring balefully back at me, as though wondering what they have to do to get a little peace round here.

Yeah, plastic-arse, you and me both.

I have therefore done nothing constructive today.  I had a whole list of things to achieve.  I have achieved nothing but a state of carnage.

Achieving nothing constructive is actually nothing new.  I started this blog with something of an agenda.  I am attempting to get up and running with a freelance writing career and in the absence of any writing credits that are less than fifteen years old I thought that blogging on some relevant topics might at least give me something to which I could refer anyone I approached with pitches for articles.  Unfortunately, the blog has proved far more addictive than the articles so I have only made one submission so far.

I was planning on getting off my backside and pitching an article on internet research to the editor of a genealogy magazine, so yesterday’s blog post was supposed to be a fairly factual guide to researching your family tree.  I actually wrote most of it before deciding it was thoroughly dull and that it would be much more fun to write about some of my ancestral shenanigans.  I had intended to have another shot at it today but this didn’t happen for obvious reasons.

It’s probably just as well.  Every time I attempt to take a serious approach to family history, I am sidetracked by the impressive levels of bad behaviour that my ancestors indulged in.  It is incredibly difficult to write a scholarly treatise about some obscure online resources when you are conscious that you used said resources to establish that your many times great-grandfather was embezzling Her Majesty’s Government while running the local customs office.

While Ben was watching television today, it occurred to me that my ancestors are clearly not suitable subject matter for a serious article.  They would, however, be perfect for the Jeremy Kyle show.

So I am thinking of pitching to ITV2 instead.  Family history is incredibly popular.  Car-crash TV chat shows are always popular with people on maternity leave the masses.  So why not combine the two?  Who The Fuck Do You Think You Are? Hosted by the one and only Mr Kyle.

I have come up with a script for a pilot episode.

Music plays.  Jeremy Kyle bounces onto the stage, working the crowd and looking smug.

JK:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Now today we have a family in crisis.  Thomas Shakerley is here to confront his father-in-law, James.  Thomas and James haven’t spoken since James prosecuted Thomas for fornicating with his daughter.  Thomas has doubts that he is, in fact, the father of his wife, Alice’s eight children.  It’s quite a story.  Let’s unravel it.

Title appears on-screen – Dad, you had me arrested for fornication with your daughter but am I the father?  And in any event, wasn’t my wife born before you and your missus were married, you utter hypocrite?

Thomas Shakerley enters and takes a seat.  Applause.

JK:  Welcome to the show, Thomas.  Now you are here for DNA results on your eight children with Alice.  Tell me why you have waited twenty-one years to do this.

TS:  Um, well, there have always been doubts, you know.

JK:  Now your elder two children were born before you and Alice were married, weren’t they?

TS:  That’s right.

JK: [shouting]  Did you even have a job when you jumped into bed and made a life?

TS:  Er, yes, I own a farm.

JK: [ignoring unexpected answer] Why didn’t you just put something on the end of it?

TS:  Like what?

JK:  Never mind.  Let’s hear from your father-in-law.  Here’s James on the show.

James Phillips enters.  Some booing and scattered applause.  James stomps across the stage and drags his chair pointedly away from TS.

JK:  James….

TS interrupts.

TS:  You’re a dirty lying ****.  When I was at your house on that day when your nan came round and told us that thing, you turned around and said that you were fine with me and Alice.

JP:  No, I never.  You were, like, spreading rumours about me.  The vicar told me.

TS:  [kisses teeth]  He’s talking ****

Continues in same vein for some time.

I think it could be a hit.  I have several possible hooks:

You disinherited my mother for eloping with the gardener but I’ll prove I’m the rightful heir to the title and the massive stately home and that my cousins are lying about which disinherited sister was the eldest.

I married my cousin.  My mother married her cousin.  Her mother married her cousin.  Now I want DNA results on my children just to see what happens when you do DNA tests on that much inbreeding.

I married a widow fifteen years older than me.  My brother married her daughter.  Now I want to swap.

My son’s mother-in-law’s sister thinks I slept with my sister-in-law while my wife was still alive.  I’ll take a lie-detector test and then I want her out of my life.  Even though she is also my step-daughter’s mother-in-law and my other son’s father-in-law’s cousin.

I will get the serious article written yet, but in the meantime, I will wait for ITV2 to call.

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