Thursday, 7 May 2009

Eccentric Uncle Fred and the Queen of Sheba

I read recently that the world is a bowl of toenails. I don't think it is. The world is, however, the playground of the eccentric.

I have an eccentric uncle. Uncle Fred. Not that he is my uncle, he isn't even a relation, he's merely an adopted uncle. Years ago he worked in the NHS alongside one of my real uncles, and from that point he was accepted as an uncle. Uncle Fred is a genius, a character of such quirkiness and extravagance that Wodehouse, Dostoevsky and Dickens would have been gobsmacked.

For as long as I have known him, which is in excess of twenty years, he has moved house roughly once a year. I say roughly because he has been known to move three times in a year. Not for financial reasons, he simply possesses an insatiable desire to move. What is even funnier is that he has lived in some houses more than once, frequently returning to a home that he had lived in a few years before.

I mention him because my birthday is coming up. He has sent me a birthday card every year of our acquaintance. The card always arrives early, provides notice of yet another new address, contains a comical story or summary of recent events in his life and without fail has a barely legible message scribbled at the bottom. The message is always the same.

I may have forgotten your birthday this year. If you do not receive this card please let me know.

A few years ago we were at the funeral of my Grandpa. Uncle Fred and I were feasting at the buffet table. Uncle Fred was on a roll, telling story after story. I was listening attentively, I regret that I didn't take notes. An old lady arrived at the buffet table.

"Excuse me," said Uncle Fred, "have we met before?".

"Beg pardon?" replied the old lady.

"I am sure we have met before," said Uncle Fred, "are you the Queen of Sheba?"

The old lady giggled and wobbled away. Shortly after another old lady approached.

"I know you," said the old lady, "you're Jean's brother aren't you?" Jean is my Grandma. At the time of the funeral both Jean and Uncle Fred were in their 70s.

"No, no, no," replied Uncle Fred, "I'm her great-grandfather." The old lady stepped back a moment, peered austerely over her spectacles and then wandered away confused.

It goes without saying that I'm eagerly awaiting this year's birthday card. I'm also looking for an opportunity to use the Queen of Sheba line. If I ever get caught jelly-biting I may use it. You can picture the scene.

Shop attendant : "Excuse me. What are you doing?"

Me, removing a pack of jelly from my mouth : "Um, err, I think we've met before, are you the Queen of Sheba?"

34 comments:

Anna Russell said...

Hahaha! I love the Uncle Freds of this world, they make everything more interesting. I actually think more of us would probably act that way if we weren't so concerned with what other people think.

I've got a birthday coming up too - we must both be May babies :)

Courtney said...

"the world is a bowl of toenails"???

I just puked.

Eric said...

Why be normal, right? The patently ironic birthday messages on the card are hilarious. We need more Uncle Freds.

Harmony said...

That is exactly what I hope to be like when I am older...Uncle Fred sounds amazing!

Being in the league of Phantom Jelly biters, one must be on their toes...good to know you are prepared for such a disturbance.

When is your birthday?

Audra said...

Uncle Fred sounds awesome. All my parents friends and their friends friends were just creepy growing up so I don't look at any of them fondly and I sure as hell don't give them my address

Sarah Lulu said...

Hahaha I did enjoy that so much.

Samsmama said...

"If you do not receive this card please let me know."

Hilarious.

Gaston Studio said...

Love your nomadic Uncle Fred and his love of the glib!

Great post.

Comedy Goddess said...

Thanks for introducing Uncle Fred. I love out of the box people. Why be ordinary?

I like how you hinted at your upcoming birthday. Taurus, Gemini? You may indeed receive some peanut butter cookies.

jpooh said...

I heart you - you're the only blogger I know that would use "Wodehouse" "Dostoevsky" "Dickens" and "gobsmacked" in the same sentence.

*sigh*

And I think I heart your Uncle Fred, too. Please let him know if you don't get his card.

Call Me Cate said...

I think adopted family are the best kind. Your Uncle Fred sounds like good people. Keep 'em on their toes!

By the way, I haven't received an invite yet for your birthday party. Am I to assume I'm being shunned?

Captain Dumbass said...

I wish I had an Uncle Fred. Can I borrow yours? NHS?

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

a bowl of toenails?

*gag a little*

andy said...

love it.

this story reminded me of my dead uncle barry.

he never married, had kids, or was very sociable...lived alone, died alone.

his were the gifts and cards i looked forward to the most. the most comical shit i have ever received from someone even to this date.

thanks for the warm fuzzy memory:)

and jelly biting? sounds kind of dirty. should i google that? probably not at work. might trigger the porn police. bugger.

andy:)

Nikki said...

I will let you borrow my nonna if you let me HAVE your Uncle Fred.

Nej said...

Uncle Fred sounds like a riot!!! I envy people who say things just to see the reactions of others. I'm too darned shy. :-)

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I think your Uncle Fred was over here once and I waited on him in a restaurant. He called me Princess.

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

My Great Aunt Mary Alice was like your Uncle Fred - I loved getting little notes from her in the mail.

She passed away in 2005 and I still find myself jotting little notes to her. Maybe Uncle Fred would like them?

blognut said...

I love Uncle Fred.

I hate bowls of toenails.

For the love of God, Mo! Bowl of toenails???

C.B. Jones said...

Great, I'll never snack on candy while walking through the supermarket ever again. I always thought those teeth marks were like some kind of seal of approval.

Kylie w Warszawie said...

I think uncle Fred and I would get along famously. I also posess an insatiable desire to move. The most I've ever moved is 2 times in a year though. Butevery year that we don't move I repaint and recover/rearrange the furniture. True story.

Cora said...

Alright, confess - when is your birthday, Mo?!

LiLu said...

Please, please, please do.

I have one too... Uncle Paul. They're everywhere.

Mr. Condescending said...

The only thing worse than a bowl of toenails is a bowl of Uncle Fred's toenails.

Girl Interrupted said...

Haha ... atta boy, Mo! Me and my jelly-biting cult will soon take over the world! You can be a general or something in my army.

I think Uncle Fred sounds adorable! Is he available for party hire?

Hit 40 said...

The jelly packet biter is interesting?

I imagine I will be crazy aunt eileen. I wonder if I will even be allowed at the funeral.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Uncle Fred sounds like a real character an one who has quite a way with the ladies.

I love the fact that he remembers to send you a card on your birthday. I was half expecting you to say he enclosed a few quid on the inside.

Peggy said...

The world really needs more Uncle Freds!

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I come from an entire family of Uncle Freds! : )

Jay said...

Oh gosh, I do hope you get to use that line!
Happy upcoming birthday.

Scope said...

You had me at "gobsmacked".

I will strive to use that today in your honor.

Saskia said...

I don't think any other country in the world does 'uncle freds' like England...

Maria Roth said...

Uncle Fred rocks! He says the kind of the stuff I merely THINK. As for the jelly-biting clip--wow. It's really hard to find jelly packets in America. I honestly don't think I could go to the grocery store and find ANY little packets to bite. I don't know if you remember my condiment packet problem or not...but out of all my condiments, I don't have any jelly packets. That's the truth. By "jelly," you ARE referring to sweet fruit preserves, right? Just making sure.

Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub said...

I have an eccentric Uncle Fred, as well, God love him. :) He is my actual blood relative and is my most favorite uncle in the family. When we were little his nickname was "Stinky Armpit" and he would call me Gamy Amy... He taught me how to play hearts and tried to teach me how to count cards, but I was an abysmal failure.

He sends me completely inappropriate, in extremely bad taste-type birthday card every year. I WISH he told us more wild tales, though, that would be awesome.

As I have quite a few new readers since I became a "Jelly Biter" I've put this up here again. To understand the context you must read this post!