Cleo's Patra
Why Comedy?

Had a rather long anonymous comment drop into the ask box, that is worth a full blog post in response.

The short answer is, of course, why not? Life is not exactly all skittle shitting unicorns, which is a huge shame for both shovel and insulin manufacturers. Sometimes laughing at the absurdity of it all is the only way to cope. Well, you could cry, but who wants to be constantly wetly red eyed and dripping snot? It gets uncomfortable, your nose becomes raw and the used tissues wind up everywhere.

I think the main challenge though is to make people smile with a few well chosen words. Unlike many, I have not been gifted with either a terribly flexible voice or the sheer gall to stand in front of a crowd and be laughed at. Couldn’t tell a joke reliably to save me soul - one liners and atrocious puns are more my speed anyway - yet I can write jokes or funny stories perfectly well.

Influences? Many and varied and probably no one you have heard of. The Navy Lark, The Grumbleweeds, The News Hudlines, Mike Harding. All radio, you might note. For TV, Not the Nine O’clock News, Spitting Image, Jasper Carrot, To The Manor Born, Only When I Laugh - again long on verbal play and fairly short on visual humor. Yeah, it is a bit of a time capsule, but your sense of humor is formed early. Hell, probably one of the few people left who will admit to liking Robin Williams. Before you blow a raspberry, find his Live at the Met show and watch that. He was funny, once. Promise.

That leads to the inevitable “But you are not funny.” It gets a bit disheartening to hear that every single time, like when your own reflection laughs and points at you from the safety of the mirror. That is OK. I don’t write comedy for you. I write it for me. If you like it, great. If you don’t, tough, I had a good time writing it.


It is 4 days to Christmas. The kids, with the exception of the pink dough blob, are getting excited as hell and almost behaving themselves. Mondo cooking and baking going on - it seems Italy called and is coming for a visit, judging by the masses of food being prepared.

I see all this via video chat, probably the most awesome invention ever made. I am a couple thousand miles from home right now. Not likely to be home for the big day, either. Story of my life. Kids grow up while you don’t notice or are away at work. Blink once and your cute toddler is moving in with her boyfriend.

As I get older I resent this more. How the hell do other people get to stay home, look after their kids and have all the little joys and tragedies while I don’t. Ain’t exactly fair, is it.

Way back in 1962, Grandad told me. “Life isn’t fair, but it is better than the alternative.” We carved that on his headstone three years back. By then he had become a stranger, though not by choice. He was over a hundred and the only person he more or less recognized was my cousin since he saw her every single day. She asked us not to visit any more, since it just made him upset. He’d sit in the garden and ask the apple tree why he could not remember. It was heart breaking. This man, a soldier and crane driver, would talk for hours about philosophy and what it meant to be human. He was funny, smart, sarcastic as hell.

I once asked him about the war, probably in the mid 70’s. He looked straight at me and said, “Someone had to go.” He’d be upset with me whining.

The Death Talk

One of the shittiest parts of being an adult is having to do the death talk to your kids. They have no defenses against the idea they are not going to live forever, yet they demand an explanation. You got two options in this case. Fake it, or the truth. And kids can smell a snow job from seven miles away.

The first and easiest question is always “Why?” The brats started saying it when they were two and never grew out of the habit. If there is a reason, cool. Use it. If there isn’t a reason, this is the one time that “Just because” is a valid response.

Since every death is different, every talk is different. It is important to remember that to a four or five year old there is no difference at all between the death of a cat and the death of a person they know. Both are equally tragic, and both need to be treated seriously. It makes acceptance easier. Well, a little easier.

So we talk about it. Do remembrance and give thanks. Cry a little, laugh a little. Explain what happened as we can. Despite all the kids going to Mass with me, we don’t often pray. It isn’t discouraged, it just rarely comes up.

Eat while talking, subtly reminding us all that life goes on and that your body still needs fuel regardless. The Irish are no fools, despite all the jokes. They know how to deal with death.

I got given the death talk first when I were four years old. Our dog got distemper, Dad shot it. That may sound fucking cold, but it is an untreatable illness that invariably ends in death anyway. “Death happens.” he said with a shrug. “It is a part of life.”

Thanks Dad. I love you, you are a wonderful man, but that really didn’t fucking help at the time. Swore I’d do better when it came to my turn to do it. It has happened a few times over the years, as more kids came to the age where they could understand and pets or people died.

Yet no matter what the words used are, or how long we talk, it still boils down to “Death happens. It is just part of life.”

So yeah. Thanks Dad.

That New Car Smell

What is it like? Never owned a car or bike under 10 years old in me life, preferring to do a small amount of mechaniking on a cheapass car than drop an extra few thousand on something newer.

Well, this morning I found out. Dad and Mom drove down to see us and the newest arrival in their brand new car. Dad decided to go for new since he is now in post life crisis territory and wanted a car that would last out his lifetime. He told me when he bought it that it’s a sure bet that the car will last now Mom has stopped driving.

No, that isn’t a dig at women drivers. Mom was a good driver, but has been almost blind for many years. She’d never admit it and would get hugely upset if it was mentioned, or, more frequently, just take the car without saying anything. The time she borrowed the motorbike to nip to the shops particularly stands out. It made for some pretty hair raising drives, to say the least, and is the reason both Dad and I are bald, nervous in the passenger seat and experts at touching up scrapes and dents in bodywork.

They pulled up outside the house just after 6 AM. Saw them through the window so nipped out to help them with their overnight bags, leaned into this shiny, sleek and totally clean car and took a sniff.

"What is that damned smell?!" The stench of burning oil hit me and tried to rip my lungs out through my sinuses.

"What smell?" Dad asked. Think his nose was shot off in the war or something (joke copyright of Naked Gun). Open the bonnet and there it is. A thin film of oil over most of the engine compartment and gently smoking on the still hot exhaust. Oil filler cap missing. Poke around a bit and find the filler cap wedged in one of the engine mounts.

They were lucky. Still some oil left in the sump, so they’d only been losing it for the last few miles of the drive. This afternoon I’ll drain it of the charred oil, change the oil filter and swap out the soaked air filter for a new one, then Dad can go and get the entire engine compartment and the chassis steam cleaned.

So there you go. A new car smells like the carelessness of whoever put the fluids in before it was sold.

An Unusual Fairy Pays A Visit.

They never really mention this in sex ed. You learn about STDs, pregnancy and how to void it and avoid it, much of what happens to a woman during pregnancy, but they miss out one key fact. Roughly 5 or 6 months into the pregnancy, the woman gets a visit from the boob fairy who does her magic, failing totally in the whole “leaving money under your pillow” aspect of fairydom.

It does seem to happen overnight. You go to bed an A cup, wake up a C cup. The male half of the couple blearily opens his eyes at your scream of shock then gets that certain gleam in his eye. You know the look, the same one that caused the fairy to visit in the first place.

Impatiently knocking his reaching hands out of the way - “Of course they are sore, asshole, they just trebled in size overnight!” - you sit and take stock, then slowly smile and utter the 6 words men fear the most.

"I need to go clothes shopping."