If you believe certain soaps, “family is everything”.
This is a concept I struggle with. As much as I miss one of my parents, I was quite happily made an orphan when the second died when I was in my twenties.
Family seems to involve traditions I struggle to see the point of. Take Christmas: you turn up at a relative’s house, with a gallon of presents for ungrateful children you never really see. You sit surrounded by decorations and bowls of nuts listening to conversations about people you can barely remember who you merely share DNA with. They talk over Doctor Who or Boxing Day sport, and you have to step outside to avoid a massacre. You’re asked repeatedly when you’re planning on settling down or how your exams went, like an endless Freshers meet-and-greet with added dentures and incontinence pants.
I’m told the point of family is that they provide a constant – people who will always be there, no matter what. I’ve been through a fair few whats and, bar two specific relatives, I’ve not received this genetic play-it-forward bonus. This makes me wonder what the point of family really is. It reminds you of time passing, of your misguided youth (remember when you fell of the bunk bed – not really a moment I wish to relive), of dependence, of traditions that go on and on like an endless tribute to Gormenghast.
Families survive through guilt. “You have to turn up, or…”, “You must remember her birthday, or…” It’s all for the children of course, forcing them to endure that excruciating moment when they have to call their evil grandparent who sent them a Boots voucher. “A £2 voucher is just what I wanted. I can spend it on that Pears soap I had my eye on. Thank you Grandma.”
This isn’t ingratitude, before you get on your high horse, it is honesty. What eight year old wants a fucking Boots voucher? It’s lazy and selfish sending something so fucking useless. Family reminds children that they’re surrounded by wrinkly relatives who lack imagination. They are the dying of the light. Parents: this may be the ultimate revenge for your miserable childhood, but for fuck’s sake break the chain!
It makes me wonder exactly what people get from researching their family history, or the programme “Who Do You Think You Are?” Taking a celebrity and attempting to prove their ancient family inspired them from beyond the grave in some way confuses me. We live in an age of free will and no longer have to follow the trade of our fathers, so what the hell does their past have to do with me?
First there was the Tracey Emin exposé that showed a distant part of her family lived in tents. You see, a tent – we’re poor people, it’s destiny! I don’t doubt that one of her relatives probably once slept in a bed of filth. Then there was Jeremy Irons’ search to prove his Irish ancestry; he’d bought a house there, he was sure. Imagine my laughter as the stirring in his loins proved not to involve a single leprechaun stashing a pot of gold.
I couldn’t give a penny-farthing what lurks in my pedigree, be it Black Death, witchcraft or the odd killing spree. I have very little in common with those still living who share my last name, and I thank free will this is the case. The majority of them are cunts. I am a cunt of my own hue, so fuck off and take your Boots vouchers with you.