One of the hardest parts of family life, apart from the general feelings of hatred and loathing which crystallise gently and organically over the years, is trying to get our nearest and dearest to like what we love. For it is never enough to have a burning deep passion for, say, Lana del Ray, the Stones Roses, Mad Men, iCarly, Inspector Morse, Hitchcock, our mother, the grocer, The Red and The Black, chess, or anything else which inspires us. We want those around us to share this passion, to appreciate it, to nod enthusiastically when we wax lyrical about it. One the happiest moments in the life of the Golden Boy was when I agreed, finally, after a long and hard battle, to play chess with him. Throughout my life, I have enthusiastically forced books, music videos, films and tv shows on my family members, only to feel bewildered and confused when met with incomprehensible coolness and/or howls of derision. Just recently, after a prolonged and bitter struggle, I announced that I would no longer watch Once Upon A Time, my family’s current evening entertainment, alongside everybody else. This announcement was received with horror and dismay, as if I had started charging for our evening meal. I was a traitor to our family.
My parents, strong and intense as they are, have taken this one level further, and desire their children to mold their lives exactly the same way that they have. For them, it is not about films and music – they are already secure in their culture, knowing they have enjoyed the best the world has to offer. For them, it is about lives and livelihoods. They have had successful academic careers, so must we. As I rush around my university as an employee and a graduate student, I hear them congratulating themselves and bask in the glow of their approval. Their happiness has always been tied up with our transcripts and universities.
But I have learned my lesson. I daydream about the Golden Boy becoming a plumber, I tell the Princess that owning a cafe is cool (but she should study business before). Or maybe they could be electricians, driving a van with their own name written on the side, and charge hourly rates comparable to those of lawyers? I swear I would be happy for them to do what I haven’t done and never dreamt of doing, I swear I don’t care if they aren’t good at maths or don’t get a degree. I swear too, that I don’t care if they don’t like old British detective shows with old men and unfathomable humour.
But I will still campaign for replacing Once Upon A time with Midsomer Murders. I won’t give up- not quite yet. There is some fight left in me.