Saturday 21 September 2019

Little Britain's Andy comes to Communion and doesn't like it

Anne Campbell - Dundalk View

Last Saturday, the day of the Big Lad's First Holy Communion, was a day of firsts - it was the first 'holy' event in our house, the first time the priest, as he declared himself, conducted a First Communion, the first family event the brother in law's new girlfriend had attended with us. And while all these firsts added frissons of excitement to the day, it was not, unfortunately, the first time the Wee Lad decided that he hated not being the centre of attention, nor was it the first time that he decided to embarrass us in public. It will not, I fear, be the last.


If you have ever watched the wonderfully funny Little Britain, you will be familiar with the character of Andy Pipkin, played by Matt Lucas. He's a wheelchair user who is cared for by the hapless Lou Todd (David Walliams) and the perennial joke is that Andy doesn't need to use a wheelchair and just pretends to when Lou's watching.

The other constant in the Andy-Lou sketches is the fact that Lou often goes to great trouble to get his charge something that he seemingly really wants, to take him somewhere that he likes, only for Andy to baulk and says he doesn't want it.

And it's Andy's catchphrases that the Wee Lad employs, unknown to himself that he's emulating one of British comedy's great characters. 'I don't like it'; 'I want that one' and 'Yeah, I know' are often all employed to great effect by the Wee Lad.

Except it wasn't so funny on Saturday when the stress levels were going through the roof ahead of the Communion. Well, mine were anyway. The Husband was getting stressed about me getting stressed, but not getting stressed himself, if you see what I mean. Getting myself ready, which seems to take longer and longer, followed by trying to blow-dry down the Wee Lad's unruly hair, followed by trying to get them to brush their teeth meant that by the time they had to get their clothes on, I was ready for a funeral, (mine) not Communion.

The Big Lad had to wear his school uniform and a blazer. There was no problem there. I had envisaged, the previous night, of the Wee Lad baulking at his outfit, a once-worn black shirt that was once much-admired by him when his big brother had it.

So, the night before, I brought the Wee Lad specially up to his room to ensure that he was aware of the sartorial choice made on his behalf. 'Well', I said, 'there's your outfit for tomorrow. It's nice, isn't it? Will you wear it?' Oh yes, he loved it, the Wee Lad assured me. 'You have to wear it for your brother's Communion', I reminded him. 'Yeah, I know', he said, a-la-Andy.

I was surprised, though looking back I shouldn't have been, the following day to hear the Wee Lad say: 'I don't like it' when I went to put the shirt on. 'I want that one', he says, pointing to a cowboy-style check one hanging alongside.

Here's me: 'You're not getting that. You said you wanted this one. You said it was the height of sophistication and elegant style and you would be delighted to get it on your back'.

But no. The Wee Lad howled and folded his arms, rendering my attempts to get it on him completely useless. He wasn't for budging, until his father came up and told him: 'You have three seconds to get that shirt on. Two'. Reluctantly, and with much pulling and dragging, the Wee Lad finally put it on him. He looked great. I never worked out what would have happened after the three seconds had elapsed.

The Wee Lad may have looked the part, but he didn't act it. He refused to smile in photos, refused to smile hardly at all, and while he behaved himself in the chapel, under the ever-watchful glare, sorry, stare, of my Ma, he hardly covered himself in glory when it came to demanding a non-existent burger in the restaurant. They made one for him, much to everyone's delight. Still, the Big Lad had a great time, even if he has Andy Pipkin for a brother. That's a first.

Irish Independent