Squalling Brats by J.T. Wilson

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When Tom and Fiona Garner visit their father on his fiftieth birthday, they find that his new girlfriend is a lot more than they bargained for. Squalling Brats is a story about prejudice, parental relationships and the difficulty in washing up sieves.

A short story from our Nibs literary line.


So, Iíve been thinking lately about my relationship with my father, likely because heís coming up to his 50th birthday and when your dad turns fifty, you become reflective about these sorts of things, I always think. Now, I canít claim to speak for Fiona, nothing like that, but personally speaking, I always thought we were closer to my mother than we were to my father. Now I know what youíre going to say, I do. Youíre gonna say ďTom, of course you were closer to your mum than to your dad, you grew up with your mum, didnít you?Ē And of course, youíd be right. But I meant politically, ideologically, things like that, and youíre supposed to rebel against your parents arenít you, to oppose everything they stand for and put a ring through your nose and all that? And yes, itís true, we probably arenít the kids that Dad was hoping for, but really weíre ever so similar to our mother.

I think if I were to give a reason for this, itís probably because Dad is, well, Dadís a bigot. Frankly speaking. To be honest Iím not sure how Mum stuck him for as long as she did. I think they met at university, or at least just after it, at a house party where, of course, my Dad (before he were my dad, obviously) was still an aspiring law student and my Ma had just finished a Fine Arts course. A fine arts course, I ask you! I donít know what she was thinking, looking at a course like that, I mean, it was hardly vocational was it? But then, thatís how it was in the seventies, or at least thatís my understanding of it. If you went to university you went for the love of it. Anyway Iím getting off the point here. My dad was a serious guy, serious moustache, serious brown trousers, serious grey suit when he wanted to impress the bank manager. Iíve got his graduation photo on my desk, actually, as I type this. He looks serious. I think thatís what impressed Mum, you know, and her bohemian pseudo-intellectual Descartian Kerouac flightiness was what impressed him. It inspired her to settle down and inspired him to want to loosen up.

In the end though, that counted against them. I mean, that whole chalk and cheese dynamic is appealing at first, isnít it, because youíre having to confront your perceptions of who you are and all that horseshit, and in your twenties thatís intriguing enough to justify a relationship. But once youíve done the whole marriage and mortgage thing, the fact that youíre straining in totally different directions becomes wearying. One of you wants to explore the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the other wants to use that money for, I donít know, a down payment on a Citroen Saxo or something. Not that thereís anything wrong with a Saxo, of course: theyíre surprisingly sporty for an about-town car, but do you see what Iím getting at? Any road, that was the problem with Mum and Dad, they were too different.

They had Fiona of course, and then they had me, I think perhaps in the hope that theyíd make a better job of me. I mean itís easy to see why youíd think that, just look at her. (Sis, Iím just kidding.) But you can have more children than the old woman who lived in a shoe, it wonít hide the fact that you hate each other and in the end, youíre just dragging the kids down to your level. One of them had to get out and in the end it was my Ma. The CSA and that sort of institution tend to favour the mother, or at least they did in them days, so we went with her. We were only about six.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads

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