Shovelling and Schadenfreude

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Bot: "Grampa, how do we address the second cousin of a widowed Bishop who is also the first son of an heriditary baronet?"
Northern Socialist: "Tosser."

Half term and my lovely nephew's birthday always coincide and over the years we have built a tradition of nice-dinner-sleepover-and-decadence. The last bit comes from a grandmother's arch remark many years ago on seeing the four bots in my bed watching a Disney film with bowls of Hula Hoops and juice. Anything fun and likely to be disapproved of is now known in our house as decadence and I think that's probably about right.

Anyway, being on the cusp of teenhood, Oscar requested a visit to our favourite Indian, the Arsenal game on TV and everyone to wear neon. The owners of the restaurant are delightful and kind and treated our colourful party like royalty.

This followed on nicely from the conversation the bots and my sister had been having in the car about good manners and etiquette. They had been (surreptitiously) taking the piss out of their grandmother for banging on about manners at lunchtime and the Pretty One had tried to explain the difference between the two.

In our family, we think that good manners are vital and a way of welcoming everyone, duke to dustman and treating them the same. We don't have much truck with etiquette and think that it's more about exclusion and making those who don't know the form feel awkward and left out. She tried to explain this to the four bots. Freddie, being a fair bit younger, cottons on eventually, 'Ah, is it like shovelling?' 'What?' 'You know, helping up a lady when she falls over in the street like the Colonel is always saying.' Silence while they all wonder what sort of female company the Colonel keeps that is likely to be so unsteady in public. 'Oh, chivalry you mean.' 'Yes, that's it. Helping her up and not laughing.'

After a feast, the bots settled down to watch footie and the Pretty One and I holed up in the kitchen with tea and fancy chocolates. We hacked my brother's account and invented Facebook Schadenfreude. It's a hilarious game for adults based on spite, bitterness and nerves of steel. Look up people you really should have got over after 20-odd years. Check out as much of their lives as they've posted in the ether. Award yourself one point each for divorce and redundancy. Take away one point each for photos of a ten-year anniversary party and second homes (second homes on another continent, minus five points). Award yourself two points for each child that is boss-eyed, scowling or otherwise unappealing. Deduct two points for each child that is playing sport at an international level under the age of 16 or well-dressed and smiling. Profile pictures by Demarchelier, school reunions at Fouquet's you weren't invited to and a Porsche for a 21st birthday (I am not making any of this up, sadly) are just Plain Bad Manners.

We laughed ourselves silly. But I think chivalry may have died a tiny death at my kitchen table last night.


  1. Some people's Facebook pages read like so many bad year-end holiday letters. Enough to make one gag. Oh, and Freddie is brilliant.

  2. Oh, we gagged! You're back! How was it??

  3. May we all help up people who fall without laughing at them. Manners are the elixir of civilization and etiquette its toxic lees.

  4. We took our teen to see Avenue Q at the Gielgud Theatre this week - fantastic show and deliciously rude. They have a song called Schadenfreude:

    'Being on the elevator when somebody shouts "Hold the door!"
    "Fuck you lady, that's what stairs are for!"

    Straight-A students getting Bs?
    Exes getting STDs!


    Give it a couple of years and your bots will adore it.

  5. LPC - did you make that up? Have just texted it to my sister. Wow.

    Trish - forget a couple of years, I love it NOW. Clever AND rude - what's not to love??

  6. I could also give you the marvellous lyrics for the song "Internet is for Porn" sung by the Trekkie Monster but maybe that would spoil it.
    Yes, do go now, it's x-rated Sesame Street!

  7. Thanks for asking-- we had a wonderful time. The tan started fading the minute we landed in the snow in Washington, but it was so worth it.

  8. OMG, shoveling. I can't stand it. What happens if ex's marry beautiful young things? Do you have go back to the beginning of the game? Oh no, they're probably stupid and boring -- add 10.

    Please come for as quick visit, I have a cadeau for you my sweet.

    Daphne. I had NO idea. I'm sure Arielle reads my blog every day so I hope she was deja au courant.

    xoxo, Tish

  9. Great post, made me laugh out loud - Facebook Schadenfreude - you should patent it...

  10. That was the best game, do patent Facebook Schadenfreude -- way too funny.

    Glad I checked back after months, will read much more often, I love your humor!!
    Hugs from the States,

  11. Eggzackly why I don't do Facebook.

  12. How did I guess you were British? Schadenfreude is our national game.

  13. This is too good... Facebook Schadenfreude - cannot wait to play!

  14. How many points do you get if they look totally awful I mean really really bad and do I dare play? It sounds sooo exciting but maybe that's because I've been alone in the hsoue too long...chivalry dies a death on its own.

  15. How many points for a lucky escape? Socks and flip flops yikes!


Please leave a comment if you can be remotely bothered - anything you have to say is valuable and I absolutely love hearing from you all. Elizabeth