2 September 2013

Keeping Mum

Getting current information about what has been going on at home has become difficult of late. 

My mother is now being very careful with what she says to me on the telephone. I live in Singapore but all my family live back in Australia. I normally ring my mother once a week and on a Tuesday night. If for some reason I don't ring her then she worries. When I tell her that her worrying causes me worry then she worries even more. 

It is a no win situation. 

It is a bit of a worry.

I rang home on Sunday this week because it was Father's Day in Australia and I wanted to wish my Dad a Happy Father's day. 

An American invented Father’s Day a little over a hundred years ago. It is one of their less harmful inventions, as it is one that does not involve blowing things up or invading foreign countries - and for this we should all be grateful. 

A woman named Sonara Smart Dodd invented Father’s Day. She was born in Arkansas but she grew up in the town of Spokane in the state of Washington. History records that when she was sixteen years old Sonara attended a church sermon in Spokane where she heard about the then newly-invented Mother's Day. Sonara decided that there ought to be some recognition for fatherhood as well so she supposedly approached the Spokane Ministerial Alliance with her suggestion and asked that the birthday of her own father - which was June 5th - be considered as the day to honor Fathers.

The Spokane Ministerial Alliance thought that the concept of a day to honor Fathers was a good one however they rejected Sonara's date. For some unknown reason they chose the third Sunday in June instead. 

Poor Sonara. 

You insensitive fuckers the Spokane Ministerial Alliance.

The first Fathers Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910 and word about it spread and like Mother's Day it became a national phenomena. In 1916 the US President at the time - Woodrow Wilson - sent a telegraph to the Spokane Ministerial Alliance praising their initiation of Father's Day Services and in 1966 another US President Lyndon. B. Johnson signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring that the third Sunday of June was to forever be regarded as Father's Day. 

I am not sure what the 'B' stands for in Johnson's middle name. 

It could well be 'Bomb".

In 1972 the dastardly American President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father's Day.

Sonara eventually received the honor of inventing Father's Day that she well deserved during the World's Fair that was held in Spokane in 1974. She died four years later when she was ninety-six years old. 

Bless her.

I will not delve into the history of Mother's Day here and I will save that for another day. 

Perhaps Mother's Day.

Father's Day is not celebrated on the third day of June in Australia. It is celebrated on the first day of September. Father's and Mother's Day are celebrated on different dates in different countries. I have no idea why we did not follow the Americans on this but I for one am however grateful. For reasons that are still unclear to me we followed them into their foreign invasions and conflicts in places such as Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq and I do not for the life of me know why.

When I rang to say 'Happy Father's Day' to my Dad - my Mum answered the phone.

"Hi Mum Howzitgoin?" I asked.

"Oh hello dear is that you Peter?" 

"Yes it is"

My Mum is sometimes unsure whether it is me or my younger brother Richard ringing her. We apparently both sound quite similar on the phone and also my Mum is getting a little deaf.

"It's not Tuesday Peter"

"No I know it's not Mum. I am ringing to say Happy Father's Day to Dad"

"That’s nice dear but he's just out walking the dog and he won't be long."

"No worries Mum - so what's going on and how are you?" I enquired.

"I am fine thanks dear. We had a lovely time up at Richard's house this afternoon and your brother made a chocolate cake for your father"

"Nice one. What have you been up to then?"

There was a moment’s hesitation from my mother before she said:

"You are not going to write about this are you Peter?"

My mum asks this of me quite often now. She has told me more than once that she doesn't like me 'telling the world' - as she describes my writing - about things that she thinks are a bit personal. She has made mention that such things have included me writing about my niece Georgina's relationship with the reformed junior gangster Rory and the fact that I have made the comment that my brother Richard has a very big penis. I have reassured her on many occasions that Georgie likes being written about and she often rings me and begs me to write more about her. I have also told my mum that my brother Richard is equally very pleased for me to write that he is very well endowed.  

By the way I have never actually written specifically about my brother's large penis before - I merely mentioned it in passing on one occasion.

My mum has also told me that she does not think that I should use so many swear words in my writing and I have told her that I thought that this was a bit rich coming from her. I have heard my mum swear many times on the golf course. We all have. I have heard her say 'fuck" very loudly when she has sliced a ball off the tee and I even heard her once mutter the taboo no-no word "cunt"' when she missed a very short putt.

The phrases 'Keeping Mum' and 'Mum's the Word' mean to keep quiet or to say nothing. The English came up with them. The terms have been around for quite a few centuries and are thought to have originated from the word "mummer'. A 'mummer' was a mime actor from pre-Shakespearean times. 

British propaganda posters were produced during World War Two that said "Be like Dad: keep Mum" - warning the populace that German spies may be lurking in their communities. The British also put up posters that said, "Loose lips sink ships" - which meant much the same thing.

I have noticed that in recent months my mum is not telling me all the news that she used to - and when she does start to relate a little family or neighborhood gossip she will very often pause before she reaches the juicy bits - and she will say:

"You are not going to write about this are you Peter?"

I have had to reassure her that I won't write about such things if she doesn't want me to but she is getting a bit repetitive and annoying in this request. Mind you, some of the stuff that she does tell me is worth writing about. She is a bit of a gossip is my mum.

Once I told my mum that I wouldn't write about anything that she had to share with me she filled me in about a few things that had transpired - such as her recent victory in a tournament at her golf club and a new partner she has in her weekly Bridge games.

Then my Dad arrived home from walking the dog and she put him on the phone and I said "Happy Fathers Day" to him.

I talked to Dad for a little while about the football and the family and where I was traveling to next for work before he passed the phone back to my mum to say goodbye.

Mum asked me if I was going to ring again on Tuesday and I reassured her that I would.

I know that she would worry otherwise.

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