A weekend broadsheet newspaper columnist has an amusing family, say editors. The columnist announced this weekend that his or her family were continually amusing and infuriating in a manner which editors described as ‘affirming’ and ‘resonant with our readers’ lifestyles.’
‘I’m sure my family is no different from any family in the land,’ the columnist said. ‘The only difference is my ruefully affectionate weekly portrait of their amusing antics. Very few journalists are capable of these wry depictions of family life, which are aimed at making readers warm to the often unacceptable, misguided or inconsistent editorial line of the papers themselves. The other purpose of my ironic portraits of my spouse, children, pets and mortgage is to create a feeling of empathy with readers. This is in the hope they will buy some of the many weekend-oriented products advertised in close proximity to my column, a fair few of them with elasticated waists or with brightly coloured rubberised finishes or intense, unfathomable aromas.’
‘The £800 fee I receive – which works out at over a pound a word – is in my opinion very good value indeed to my London proprietors. Like all families, mine varies from week to week in terms of quality of raw comedic output, creating intense pressure on me to examine the minutiae of domestic life in forensic detail. My family find this comically annoying, which is all grist to the mill!’
‘It may be that readers see this as an easy, comfortable job, but I would stress I am not alone in facing the challenge of the differently-abled at home. One of my children - through no fault of his or her own - is completely unable to produce behaviour that might result in a humorous sentence, let alone a full 750 words. This is frustrating for me but I have to deal carefully and compasionately with my reaction to it. The child appears even tempered and normal, and serious but in a way that defies parody. Sometimes I fantasise about this challenged and difficult child (who I love dearly) dying suddenly, and I imagine the brave piece – almost totally devoid of humour - I might write as a result. Then I imagine the guilty yet cathartic piece I write about fantasising about the imaginary death of this innocent child and using it as fodder for these pages.
Luckily, a sibling shows every sign of developing obsessive compulsive disorder, and we have a 3 year old who shouts ‘bogeys!’ unpredictably. Still, I must ruefully conclude that having an amusing family for money is by no means plain sailing. I do have a single piece of advice for those embarking on a career in amusing-family journalism: Limit yourself strictly to one exclamation mark a piece. End with shorter and shorter sentences. Good luck.