The very first thing that Clare does not wish me to talk about is her small-child-scaring, mutant toe.
Seems a good, if somewhat surreal, place to start.
She is part of the fraternity of clumsy farmers or fashionable footballers that one sees nowadays that have freakish extremities. So disfigured as to scare onlookers and pull questions from the curious, her toe was the result of the defective protection offered by gumboots when mowing the lawn. We have a masked marauders special tonight only offering … squashed toe viewings by appointment, walk ups are welcome.She is extremely embarrassed about it so please make the effort to ask her all about it…any reference to it makes her uncomfortable. Doesn’t it bung toe?
Terris has always been a bit of the socialite. She has feasted on the succulent bloody rump-stake of the soul right from the beginning. Clare was a little princess once.Hard to believe I know, what with her tough cultured exterior and all, but once she was.Terris as a young girl explains a lot about Terris as a big girl or rather a ‘not so little’ girl.Small toddler/Princepessa Clare subscribed to the “If you have it, flaunt it, if you don’t, tanty til you do get it ” philosophy of parent and older person management.She was small, and cute, and had beautiful skin, had little curls with blond hair and…it might shock some people to learn this … she had a nasty temper with a fair propensity for physical violence.
When Clare was 3 years old she accompanied the rest of the family on a road trip around Australia.Depending how stinky we felt about spending a day in the Veedub on an unmade road and getting ‘Scrunch’ (made out of sultanas and peanuts scraped of the floor from yesterdays scrunch) for lunch, the four older kids would help or hinder Ma and Pa set up the tent as we arrived in each caravan camp.Clare would disappear off the face of the earth.
The first few nights we couldn’t work out where the princess had got to.Eventually we were curious enough to check up on the little darling.We found her in the company of a stranger, a generous senior citizen with serious fal-loob-a-ders.Terris was sitting in a camp chair, mug of steaming tea in one hand the remains of a tim tam in the other (most of it was plastered around her mouth) discussing the rotten state of the world.This was a scam that terris was able to perpetrate almost at will.
Many a grandma can attest to the strength of persuasion and the lashings of the wrong side of terris tongue when they brought out the ginger nut, the savoury savoy or the burnt shortcakes instead of a sweet tim-tam or the pick of the biscuit tin.The acrimonious four lettered words would flow with the tears if anything less than four table spoons of sugar was put in the volatile little angel’s milky tea.In this way Clare demonstrated an early interest in language and its uses on the weak minded.
This was to become a precursor to Terris’ attempts to speak and translate dog. Lying around on the decking or slate Clare and Her little helpers Porgy and Bess would spend hours talking and flopping and scratching at the occasional flea. Their mutual understanding developed to the sharpest kinetic point. Her recent study of Semiotics has allowed her to deepen her understandings of Porgy, her soul sister.
Her attempts to understand horse, however, failed miserably as her subject ‘Shar’ had a horrible lisp due to the fact that he had no teeth, was extremely difficult to understand suffering somewhat from dementia in his old age and was half blind.Despite the fact that Shar sucked the grass to death while thinking that Clare was his half brother who died in 1944 whilst carrying water to the front in WW2, Clare was still able to gain valuable insights into horsehood and was able to live out a fantasy of her own.She would pretend that she was wearing jodpurs and would fantasise about featuring in her own Pony Club novel as a main character with a name like Pipper and Shar’s name would probably be like “Bubbles” or something.
Clare began to study Eyetalian when she hit high school.At this point we worried for Clare’s sanity. In year nine she organised to get a lift into a supermarket where Matthew Richardson would be appearing and asked him to sign her butt cheeks. Our little Princess was becoming a woman. A somewhat vulgar cheap tartish one but still a woman none the less. It was around this time that she began her ethnologist work with a dry cleaner but more on that later.
In year ten clare began to go a little experimental with her linguistics.She featured in a play of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ put on by a group of 16-17 year old Notre Dame Students. Terris played the speaking role of Titania, Queen of the fairies ‘She who is not heard’.She played the whole role in mime with great affect although the production itself received mixed reviews.
It could be said that this disappointment directly contributed to clare diverging from the paths that would be and had been tread by many of her siblings.She refused the dunny brush janitor job that was hers by right (such a disappointment to her family, that was a black day indeed) and it was at this point that she began dabbling in the black art of bogan. Clare was getting better at spoken Italian at this stage and this darkness began to corrupt even this pure linguistics. She would go to the Sherbs or the Aussie and speak Eye-talian verbal diarrhoea talking about commodores and other such nonsense.
At first it was just a part time job and the outward signs were no worse than watching her perfect her neck thrusts in the car. When she left year 12 and took up full time work with the place that shall not be named we began to see some darker more sinister signs of the changes taking place within.
She wore inappropriately casual attire to formal social occasions. Namely she wore Ugg boots to my twenty first birthday party for which I still have not forgiven her. Sure it was cold but there were people there that she didn’t know and they might not have formed those sorts of opinions about me. Yet.
She introduced uncouth and foul language to the happy Ryan household. Just as an example of Clareys down going, she introduced Carmel to every day use of the term ‘Arse wipe’ from which I have had very little rest since. She began to scare people with her fucken foul formations of sentences that had at least one ‘fucken’ in them somewhere, fucken. She encouraged those around her to support this abuse of good language.
Finally, and this was the last step, she began to document this cultural cesspool by passing it on in the form of narrative story. We learned about the myth of the nana bogan, a sixty year old woman who creamed her jocks at the thought of Clint McCoys excellent butt cheeks “If only I was 40 years younger……”.
Clare had become a successful and distinguished ethnologist.I can handle that.But I insist absolutely that she had no right bringing that story up at the dinner table. Directly after this we sent her away to redress her misdeeds and soak up some decent Irish and Eye-Talian culture.