Friday, 1 May 2009

The Goats Had Eaten EVERYTHING

My grandparents arrived with my great aunt and uncle in tow. They slowly climbed the stairs to our flat, a dignified procession of four. My great aunt climbed the stairs backwards, something to do with her knee. I doubt I could climb those stairs backwards without falling and breaking my neck, but she managed the climb successfully.

The conversation was lively. My Nana and her sister are prolific talkers. Not even my wife, who has been known to talk hind legs off donkeys, could get a word in edge ways. Grandpa and Great Uncle John barely attempted to speak, they knew it would be futile. Instead, they drifted in and out of sleep. Every now and then Great Uncle John would wake with a start, contribute a few incisive thoughts about the "youth of today" and the "immigration problem", and then nod back off.

There was one brief moment when the conversation reached a lull. Great Uncle John woke with a start, seized the opportunity and without prompting told us the goat story.

For years he worked as an engineer for British Telecom. One day he was called out to a house in a quaint middle-class area of Weymouth. A problem with the wiring, he told us. He was met at the door by a lady that was a bit "out there". We asked him what he meant by "out there". You know, he said, shawls and things. I asked him if he meant she was a hippy. No, no, no, he said, not a hippy, just a bit "out there" you know, shawls and things.

The house was a cute little two-up-two-down. The family lived upstairs. The downstairs was populated by goats. The goats were everywhere, he told us. The nanny goats (there were fifteen of them) lived in the front room. The billy goat lived in the back room. What carpets and furnishings there were downstairs had been ravaged. The garden was bare. The goats had eaten everything, including the telephone cable.

The family was happy, the goats were happy, he didn't want to make a fuss. What did he know about the delicate etiquette of household goat-rearing? So he replaced the telephone cable and filed it under "problem with the wiring".

Shortly after this our guests left. My great aunt, of course, went down the stairs backwards. Something to do with her knee.

51 comments:

Minka said...

Can't imagine household goat rearing.

My brother used to rear goats, though. He had two. They were so cute! To avoid any misunderstandings with his daughters he named them Roasty and Goulash. It worked, I think, as well as it could.

Your Uncle John was a creative guy, wasn't it?

Minka said...

he, sorry, not it, of course....

Eric said...

These people must have really hated mowing / lawncare?

Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub said...

I cannot even begin to imagine living with goats. The boy ones really SMELL!

And, speaking of someone who is trying to get visas for live in the UK.... I can only say to Uncle John that your government is taking this immigration problem very seriously! We are jumping through a LOT of hoops to get ourselves over there.

Judging from your site and Kat's, I'd say it will be worth it. :)

And I promise I won't wear shawls and things.

jpooh said...

Amy, if you think a boy goat smells, you should live with a teenage human boy. Some perfume company could bottle Eau de Billy Goat and sell it to the parents of teenage boys and we'd BUY it.

Mad Dog, you uncle was a model of diplomacy - I'm glad he woke up long enough to tell the story.

Amy said...

That's incredible.

Is it terribly strange that I sort of understood what he meant by "shawls and things"?

You family sounds nice. I was raised around my grandparents on both sides, all my aunts & uncles and great aunts and great uncles, and a couple of great grandparents. It's a real blessing.

Hit 40 said...

I love old people!!!!! There stories are great.

My favorite... grandpa and grandma used to sit on their front porch to watch the cars crash at the intersection. It was before tv and traffic lights!!!!!!

g said...

Goats in their own apartment? Sounds sensible enough.

Although I don't like goats. I don't like their eyes.

I'm not getting the bad knee thing. I have a bad knee myself. Going upstairs backwards would be really hard!!

Gwen Gwen Banana Fo Fen said...

I just heard yesterday that our biggest city park (2d largest in US, dwarfed only by Central Park in NYC) is having a problem with honeysuckle taking over the landscaping so they are going to let the goats from the Zoo eat it. I couldn't help myself and shouted, in a hospital, "RELEASE THE GOATS!"

Shawn said...

I love dropping by your place when your grandparents and great aunt/uncle stop by. There's always an interesting tidbit or two.

I'm thinking you need to rig up a chair lift with a pulley though for your great aunt. That would be a good great nephew thing to do.

jessica o said...

My grandparents had a goat when I was little. She was a pest on the family farm. I can't imagine having house goats.

Comedy Goddess said...

You never know what you will find in the house of someone wearing shawls and things. Even in a middle class area.

Nej said...

Donkeys without hind legs, those poor things! :-)

I sat in my grandmother's living room this past weekend with my great aunt aunt and uncle...small world.

Goats in the house. Lots and lots of goats. I guess if they all got along...but I don't know if I could have done it. :-) Makes for a good story though.

blognut said...

Well, sure. Doesn't everyone keep goats in the living room?

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

When we visited "the old country" many years ago, they raised their chickens indoors. Is that the same thing? I'm so confused.

Diane said...

At least now we know where you get it.

Samsmama said...

I want to party with Uncle John.

Courtney said...

Old people say the darndest things...

ps: F living with goats!

Call Me Cate said...

Crap, I have a shawl. Does that mean I'm "out there"? I'm definitely not a hippy. I like to call it a pashmina. Probably screwed either way.

Also, I can go UP stairs backwards. But DOWN? Bless her.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I'm going to try going down my stairs backwards today. It might fix my arm!

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

I was once loaned a billy goat for a theatre production of The Little Robber Girl I was directing.

They never came to claim the goat after the production closed, so I named him Billy and took him home to live in my back yard.

A)Just as in cartoons, they WILL eat absolutely anything, including metal.

B)There is a reason for the phrase "smells like a goat" is so widespread

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I could picture the whole thing.

cactus petunia said...

Can't get the image of your great aunt going up the stairs backwards out of my head. The goat story seems perfectly normal to me, however.

I've had a problem with my house full of goats for years now... well, actually, there are only two of them, but they have eaten things that only goats would ever consider eating, which is pretty much everything.

So what does one do in a situation like that? Start a blog about them, of course!

http://www.dietaryindiscretions.blogspot.com

P.S. I do not wear shawls and things.

Girl Interrupted said...

I have aged wrinklies like that in my family!

You don't reckon we're related, do you?

Peggy said...

I would so have goats in my house if they were the fainting kind...that sh*t would never get old!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we9_CdNPuJg

Nikki-ann said...

LOL! You could write a book with this stuff :D

Michelle said...

Ewwwww.

Teenagers do that too....eat everything I mean :)

Maria Roth said...

Good gracious! They weren't content with a carpet-chewing, door-scratching dog? Whatever floats your boat, I guess...Goats probably float. :)

Gaston Studio said...

Great story about the visiting relatives, I love that the aunt went up the stairs backwards! When I had knee surgery, I went up and down the stairs on my fanny, is that the same thing?

Audra said...

and I thought having kids in the house was a dirty business

Scope said...

Sorry, I'm still stuck on the phrase, "the delicate etiquette of household goat-rearing".

Do you have to buy them dinner first, or just flowers?

Yes, I am a horrible, horrible, filthy minded nasty American.

And I cannot believe that there are 30 comments before mine, and nobody touched that.

I guess I win "Perv of the Day."

Kylie w Warszawie said...

Argh! It took me so long to get back here on my phone that i forgot what i was going to say. Something about wondering if goats eat dandelions, because then I should get some goats.

Frogs in my formula said...

I've only heard one other goat rearing story in my life and it involved a goat with a looming, uniball. Since then I've been a bit leery of goats.

Tooj said...

I wonder sometimes if my neighbors have goats or donkeys living in their basements.

Debbie said...

I've never considered sharing a house with a goat!

Candy's daily Dandy said...

sounds like the goats most certianly got the better part of the deal.

Harmony said...

"You know, shawls and things." ~ I think that's an accurate description of someone who is out there. I mean, I can't think of any better....I suppose.

Mr. Condescending said...

Didnt the neighbor on sanford and son have a goat named julio!? Or was that the neighbor?

Soda and Candy said...

I love old people.

Tricia said...

Stopping by from Jan's Sushi Bar. Great post and Jan was right, you write wonderfully. I look forward to reading more.

Currently Untitled said...

it would be unfortunate if the family had chosen to live downstairs, and the goats upstairs.

lizspin said...

Backwards is always the best way. . . And I wear shawls and "things"

The Demigoddess said...

What were they rearing the goats for? For their meat? Or that late night, um, you know what I mean.

If you don't, then I'm probably more obscene than I thought I would be.

Beth said...

I once had a goat take a bite out of my shirt. Fast little buggers.

Living with goats? Not in my life time (please, dear god let my children not have goats in their homes when I am old and need their assistance or I will have to eat these words much like a goat does).

Gaston Studio said...

Left something for you on my post today; hop over and pick it up when you have time.

Jane

Slyde said...

household goat rearing?

there is a dirty joke in there somewhere, but im too much of a gentleman to pull it out..

bernthis said...

I love your stories. The dead dog in the rug stolen by the robber, this one, the man on the train.... I love them all

Phat Mama said...

I'd go up backwards too. Matter of fact, I've never thought to do this before and it seems freakin' genius!

As for goats.. hmm. No. If an animal doesn't turn into a steak, I'm against it.

Cowguy said...

I LOVED this story. Anyone that's ever had anything to do with goats will remember it forever.

Fragrant Liar said...

Damn old goats!

Sassy Britches said...

I can't wait 'til I'm old and can sleep on a whim and bust out with crazy stories.

And I am gagging at the thought of the smell that must have been permeating every INCH of that house! (Wait, do you guys measure in inches over there?)

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!