David Baddiel!! “My”!! “Family”!!!!!

The TV is on but the sound is turned off. An overweight man in a baggy T shirt and a helmet that makes me think of the Romans is standing in front of a small crowd. The crowd is mainly women. The man in the helmet looks scared, but he may be trying to look mean. Another overweight man is wearing a navy T shirt with the word steward printed on the back. Goodness only knows what it is about, but I am not interested enough to turn the sound up.

I am waiting for another programme that is due to start shortly.

Oh the joy of an evening where I can veg in front of the television for a while. My absence from this page has not been due to indifference. No,I have been obscenely, wonderfully busy, which is great news for my bank account, but absolutely lousy for engaging with friends and others both actual or virtual. Tomorrow the levels of my coffers will remain unchanged as I am having A Day Off. I’d like to think I’d have a lie-in, but there’s a new kitchen being installed downstairs and the builders arrive at 8, so I’ll be up at the usual time.

I had half a day off on Sunday. Some weeks ago, I bought tickets for myself, Celia and Charlie to go to see David Baddiel in his new show My Family: Not the Sitcom. Charlie had completely forgotten and taken himself off to Hove to see a cricket match; a match it turns out that was taking place in Worcester, so not an entirely successful day.

I can’t remember what blurb had suggested to me this might be an entertaining way of spending an afternoon, but it was. There was a lot of swearing; the F word and the C word featured, and that was mainly when Baddiel was quoting his father. Baddiel Senior has dementia, a form of dementia that makes him agressive and rude. He has now been expelled from the Jewish Day Centre he was attending after first insulting another member of the day centre about the size of his nose, and then punching said nose. But before dementia struck aggression and bad language was no stranger to this man. He greeted his middle son and his wife when they arrived after kick-off for a family party with, “Well you couple of cunts are late.”

No family is ordinary, but Baddiel’s family is more than extraordinary. His mother Sarah was a larger than life character who developed a passion for all things golf-related after starting a long term affair with a golf nut called David White. It takes an amount of bravery to reveal your family warts and all in front of a room full of strangers. It was moving, funny, shocking. Baddiel’s irritation with his mother’s overuse of exclamation marks and misuse of quotation marks seemed to far outweigh any distress he felt at her infidelity.

It made me revisit my feelings about Mother and dementia. And punctuation. I am all for dementia being a topic we discuss openly. The idea that it somehow reveals a failing, something shameful in the individual living with dementia is expressed in all sorts of subtle ways. Those living with dementia need our understanding and support, not our judgements, and humour is a great place to start, because humour underlines our common humanity, and that humanity is often forgotten where dementia is concerned, with the sufferers seeming some less human than ourselves, and therefore less deserving of our interest and care.

See it if you can. It boils down to a hommage to his parents, a somewhat exasperated and irritated hommage at times, but also an affectionate and loving one. I think the memory of this show is something that’ll stay with me for some time. I should rather like to see it again.

Baddiel likes cats too, so he can’t be bad.


10 thoughts on “David Baddiel!! “My”!! “Family”!!!!!

  1. Yes, it was funny and poignant. And he talked about whether such a public way of remembering his mother, and acknowledging what’s happening to his father is appropriate. Justified it in several ways – this is how he can deal with it, it’s what he does; his mother liked his shows, and would try and join in when she was there; and his father’s essential character hasn’t been changed by the dementia. I was reminded of my own father, who also stayed in character, in his case kind and gentle, in spite of his dementia. I’d certainly be up for seeing the show again – perhaps we’ll even get Charlie there!

  2. New! Improved!! Headline!!!
    I do appreciate thoughtful solo performance pieces. Their insights often stick with me longer than a more traditional theatre play. Oddly, I find them less self-indulgent than a written memoir. Perhaps because the performer cannot hide behind the pages of a book.

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