The church ladies say the F word

The other day I received an email inviting me to the annual games night with the ladies from my church.  This is an event that I now look forward with unbridled glee!

I had only been a member of the local church for around six months when I went to my first games night.  I decided to go for curiosity’s sake more than anything else and expected a mundane night of bingo and whist with some lovely, but slightly wispy ladies.

The number of bottles of wine should have given me a clue really, but I was totally unprepared for the excellent evening of games, fun and laughter that we had.  Towards the end of the evening, we were all relaxed with wine, full of yummy snacks and playing a quick fire card game.  The tension mounted as the deck made its way around the table.  It was a simple game, relying on the turn of a card.  There was laughter and shouting as various ladies were eliminated from the game.  Finally, the deck reached me, I turned the card over and shouted “F#CK!!” extremely loudly.  After a split second of silence those lovely ladies roared with laughter, spluttered out their wine and choked on their pretzels.  I have since found that Americans love hearing the English curse (within reason) because it sounds so much better, and funny, with our accent.  Suits me.

A year passes and I get to know the ladies of the Women’s Association a little better.  Along comes another games night with all the accompanying wine and nibbles.  I eagerly arrive, looking forward to another fun social evening.  There are two main games this evening and we divide ourselves into two teams.  It just so happens that we have a more serious, sober team and a livelier, younger team.  Of course, I am on the second team.  I cannot for the life of me remember what the other team was playing, but they kept muttering about how loud we were!

Our team was playing a game called Mad-Gab.  This game involves reading a group of words that when said fast enough, or often enough, or slow enough sounds like a well-known phrase or saying.  So, “Canoe Keep Pace He Grit”, when pronounced quickly sounds like “Can you keep a secret”.   We played several rounds of this game, getting noisier and more raucous by the minute, when suddenly I remember a Billy Connelly (fab Scottish comedian) sketch I saw many years ago.  I grab a pencil and paper and jotted down a few words during a break in the game.

During the following rounds I’m a little pre-occupied.  Dare I?  Is it too rude?  I drink some more wine to help me come to a sensible decision … dammit, I’ll do it!

I bide my time, waiting for exactly the right moment.  Eventually there is a natural lull in the game.  I say “Hey, see if you can get this phrase” and hold up my piece of paper so all the ladies on my team can see it.


The ladies read it and say it.  They say it again and again and again.  They don’t get it.  I have a moment of panic wondering if my naughty joke will fall flat.  They are now saying it s l o w l y, then fast.  They chant it and they get louder and faster.  They concentrate as hard as the wine will let them and I am now having a hot flush I am laughing so hard.  Suddenly they get it and scream!  The whole room erupts with laughter … thankfully.

I do love the ladies of our church.  They can be devout and wholesome (during the church service), they have been kind and welcoming to me and my children (during coffee morning after the service) and they love to have a blast socially (anywhere!)

My third games night is approaching and I am wondering if I can get through the evening without the F word being involved.  We shall see …

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Apparently there is a bad outbreak of headlice at the local schools.  These things happen, and of course we don’t attach any stigma to it nowadays because we are enlightened, aren’t we …

My girls are delighted.  They came home from school and announced that they didn’t want their hair washed as lice love clean hair!  “Okay” said I, totally laid back about it all and didn’t bother to wash their hair!  However, I did pick my way through their flowing locks in search of nasties, and had to grin at the nit-picking memory it brought to mind.

It was shortly before I was due to move to America with the girls and my husband was already there (here!).  The girls were both under 3 years old and attended the most fabulous nursery to give me some time to organize things for moving.  One day there were notices plastered on the walls warning us of a lice problem.  I checked the girls each night as they had long hair, but never found anything.  It made me feel rather itchy checking them, but I didn’t think much of it.

My itching increased, so I went to see the lovely staff at the nursery.  I explained that I felt rather itchy (we all scratched our heads in unison) and wondered if they could give me some more information about lice.  With a good flurry of scratching, empathy and laughter I was provided with printouts about how to identify and kill lice.

That night I check myself for lice, and dammit I find some.  I drown my itchy sorrows in wine and brace myself for a cleansing session.  The next morning, after I drop my disgustingly lice-free children at nursery, I take myself off to the chemist (pharmacy).  To my disgust, I discover that lice lotion is behind the counter and there is a queue.  I live in a small community and I can hear the ripple of excitement when I ask for lice lotion.  I don’t think they could have been more excited if I’d asked for a pregnancy testing kit and a large crochet hook!

I drive home in a cloud of annoyance and humiliation.  I discover my hangover as I hang my lotion smothered head over the bath for the required amount of time.  About three minutes into the head hanging the phone rings.  I answer because I have no friends.  It’s the nursery; my daughter has been sick so I need to come and collect her.  I explain that it could take me a little while before I can get there as I am busy delousing.  I have to hold the phone away from my ear while the snorts of laughter subside.

For at least a week afterwards the staff automatically scratched their hair whenever they saw me.  As for my vomiting daughter – she was fine as soon as she was home.


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