Comparisons

“It’s a Volvo.” My father thought it was a Lexus and so I corrected him.

“Looks like a Lexus.”

“Nah, it’s an XC90. A Volvo.”

We were watching my brother park his Volvo. He hadn’t done a great job of it.  And then we were watching him climb out of the Volvo. And then only I was watching him walk across the drive because my father had gone to the front door where my mother was already waiting. I took a deep breath and then I too went to the front door and watched the hugging and handshaking.

“Nice Volvo,” my father was saying and my brother replied something about it being a lease.

“You okay?” I asked through the scrum as brightly as I could.

“Knackered,” he replied. My mother was not surprised and told him so, and she made him sit down in the living room. She made him. She insisted and then she asked him if he wanted something to drink. Like he was a visiting dignitary. Like he didn’t know where the kitchen was. Like he hadn’t made himself a drink in there thousands of times. She also asked me. I didn’t want a drink because I’d had a glass of juice only fifteen minutes earlier and I’d managed to make it all by myself! My brother was told that he must be starving and that dinner would not be long. He didn’t look starving. Far from it. Reckon he could wait about 7 months of not eating anything without succumbing to starvation but whatever.

Mum came back with a glass of juice for him and then we were all there. My mother was perched on the front of her chair.

“Got up okay? Traffic okay?” asked my dad.

“Yeah, fine.”

“You remembered the way?” asked my mother.

“Sat-nav.”

“I’ve never used one, I don’t think I’d trust it,” said my father.

“They’re great. You’ve got to have it if you live in London. I guess around here it’s okay but they are good.”

“Get you one for Christmas,” my mother was telling my father. My father suggested this wasn’t necessary.

“Do you want one?” my brother was asking my father.

“No, really, I wouldn’t use it.”

“Just say if you do.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t use it.”

“He wouldn’t use it,” confirmed my mother and that was the end of the sat-nav part of the conversation. Or was it.

“I’ve got Amazon Prime so it could be here tomorrow. Jamie could set it up.” He looked at me and nodded. I nodded back.

“No, thanks a lot but don’t.”

I found fascinating that he was being thanked for offering to do something that nobody wanted him to do. I didn’t want to set it up and yet I wasn’t being thanked. Like I said, I found that fascinating. The oven bleeped and my mum made a startled sound and went into the kitchen. “Smells great!” my brother shouted after her.

We sat there for a bit. My father broke the silence.

“How does it know if there are road works? Or if there’s a kid in the road?”

“It gets updates and you still have to drive.”

“I wouldn’t trust it.”

“Well they’re doing self-driving cars now, there’s loads of them in London. They drive themselves. Have you heard of them?” He was addressing me now. No, I live under a fucking rock. And they don’t have loads of them in London, they’re still in development. Apple are rumoured to be making one. But no, I’ve never heard of them.

“Yeah, I quite like driving though. Not sure I’d like just sitting there.” My father agreed with me. My brother told him it’d be a boon for him as he’s always going places and sometimes at ungodly hours. My father agreed that for people like him a self-driving car would be a boon. But for people like us not so much. Us. Them. Him. Fuck’s sake.

Dinner was ready and we were told to wash our hands. “I’m 37!” I protested and then it turned out she was only joking and we all laughed, well, I made a laughing sound. “You have been stroking the dog, though, wash your hands,” she added. When I returned my brother and my father were sat at the table. My mother presented us with £80 worth of food from Marks and Spencers. “Wow!” my brother proclaimed.

“Looks great,” I added.

“No ravioli? What’s going on?” asked my brother.

“Watch it!” laughed my mother.

We started eating and my brother asked if there was a Whole Foods nearby as that’s where he shopped. I’d heard of Whole Foods because I download Top Chef. My parents hadn’t heard of Whole Foods.

“It’s just so nice to relax,” said my brother.

“Non-stop, is it?”

“Yeah,” replied my brother with a rueful laugh and them he took more Dauphinoise. Then my brother was hit with a barrage of questions. He made a lot of good things sound bad when he replied.

“Arn?” asked my mother. My brother had mentioned Arn, like we should know who Arn is.

“Arnie,” he explained. Look at that, my brother knew Arnold Schwarzenegger so well he’d shortened his nickname to a point it was unrecognisable! They must be great friends. He was a great guy, apparently. Really down to earth. Arn was. My brother was in talks to do movies but there was a lot of bullshit. Fucking hell, he swore in front of our parents and they hadn’t flinched.  That’s fucking bullshit. My brother is 27.  They didn’t just talk about Arn. There was talk of awards but he made it sound like such a chore. All of it. I was nice throughout. I didn’t correct him when he said ‘serendipidacious’ instead of ‘serendipitous’ and he made that mistake about four times. A lot of what had happened to him was that, apparently.

“Did you read Jamie’s book? The one I sent you?” my mother asked, possibly noticing I was not asking my brother many questions.

“Yeah, no, I did. It was good. I liked it. The one about the Co-op?”

“Ah, it was just a bit of fun.” Fucking Co-op. It was about a Spar.

“I really liked it, you should do more. Really, stick at it.”

“Maybe.”

“I thought you did do more?” asked my mother.

“Kind of, still working on it.” I’d done three more. Thanks for noticing.

“You can turn it into a film,” said my mother to my brother and we all laughed although I just made the noise.

Dessert was profiteroles which I dislike. I hate the chocolate they put on them. It ruins them. My brother seemed to enjoy the chocolate they put on them. After dinner we watched TV. My mother came in and pointed to the three my brother had sent her. They were sat on a shelf looking at us. “They’re good, eh?” my brother said. We watched Bang on the Money which seemed to be a team-based The Cube. Thankfully they didn’t come on. It would have been weird had they come on. After it finished my brother slapped his thighs to show it was time for him to go and then he said, “well, time for me to go.” Then he stood.

“What is it you’re doing?” asked my mother. She’d been told but it wasn’t going in.

“A reddit AMA.”

“Sorry, you’ve lost me.”

“No rest for the wicked, eh?” said my father.

“Tell me about it.” And then we were in the hall and it was when he arrived but played in reverse. My mother’s smile was now a frown so it was also upside-down. We watched as he had to do nine manoeuvres to turn his Volvo around.

“Is he driving or the car?” asked my father.

“He is.”

“Thank goodness he’s insured,” said my father and I laughed for real.

 


 

That night I looked at the AMA. My brother was getting a lot of shit and I was conflicted. Sure, what had he done, really? Nothing to love and nothing to hate. He’d one day realised that Meerkats sounds like Markets. That’s all he’d done. He hadn’t gassed six million Jews. Meerkats and markets. A serendipidacious event if ever there was one. I doubt he knew then just how successful the campaign would be. How Aleksandr and Sergei would capture the public’s imagination. The public were the villains of the piece. The fucking idiots who said ‘simples’ and chose how to spend their meagre income based on the fucking toy they’d get sent in return. Nah, fuck them. I closed reddit and looked on Amazon for sat-navs.  My brother was okay.