As we say in our house
Posy Simmonds: the invisible woman-London Telegraph- 21/10/2007
The characters in her stories of middle-class life are known – and loved – by millions. But what of Posy Simmonds herself? Sabine Durrant meets a cartoonist who is never happier than when eavesdropping on the busThe three page article ends with a witty rejoinder to that phrase and I'm reminded of a book on my shelf, As we say in Our house compiled by Nigel Rees, presenter of the BBC4 radio show Quote...unquote. I see he was doing a live presentation of the same kind of thing earlier this month in Warwick.
Posy Simmonds, the writer and cartoonist, lives in a quiet Georgian square between King's Cross and Islington in London.
Having male siblings, she says, may well have influenced her sense of humour. 'I think we were all rather lavatorial. My grandmother had a way of changing the subject whenever the talk got a bit salty. She'd say things like, "Oh, there's a squirrel." And this became a family joke. If somebody says anything a little bit… one of us still says, "Oh, there's a squirrel."
I've never heard the show, but I enthusiatically picked up the book (published 2001) as it's a theme I've used a great deal in my autobiographical blatherings. Indeed I am always excited by the degree to which the members of close families occasionally share a private lexicon that can be close to being a whole other language. When I first visted the family of the wife of my bosom, I noticed that if one of them was heading out and another asked where they were going, it was customary to say "up on the roof to mow the lawn."
There's one we picked up from the Rees book that has become a favourite. If Anne accidentally overbuys a foodstuff, say marmalade, and we find that we have three identical jars all at once, it is now customary to say: "It's a good thing you went to the store before the hoarders got there."