My father-in-law is a lawyer of no mean learning, and also a religious scholar. He reads like most people breathe, and if he does not know about something that's just an excuse to read about it: "I've been reading since I was three. Everything I see I read." However, my mother-in-law sees his learning as not all wisdom: "Pity you can't read what it says about turning on this washing machine." He also writes a regular column for the Nassau Guardian (see his latest offering, The financial crisis: was it greed or ignorance--I will tackle that separately). He holds many ideas whose time have come and gone, or not yet come, but he is hard to persuade that he should drop them. So, this vacation, I am going to just note some of them, not all at once, but a few at a time.
Forgetfulness: He calls all of his five children by the wrong names. No doubt that he is their father, now, at least if physical characteristics and a few other traits are noted. My poor five year old just has to get used to being called the name of her older cousin who lives next door--she was around a lot longer so has taken the space in my father-in-law's mind. He regularly mixes people up when retelling stories, and he often asks about things that he should know are not relevant. My step-daughter (now in her twenties) often can be seen with steam coming from her head when having to deal with this; Miss Bliss--bless her tender years--just breezes along with it. He is now in his seventies so I am not going to fault him on these lapses, though he's always been that way since I knew him. However, He recalls almost without fault things that he has read. Interesting, that.
Comfort and clothes: He loves his pyjamas but only in bed; once awake he needs to wear regular clothes. His logic is that years of living abroad (i.e. in England as a student) in colder climes made him adapt to the need to dress and be warm once he got out of bed. I told him that I lived in England many more years than he did and I had never had this affliction, especially when I do not have to go anywhere in a hurry. By contrast, I love being in my pyjamas. Given that I now work at home I am often in my pyjamas until 9am. I start work before dawn on most days; then take breakfast with Miss Bliss; then wave her and her mother off at around 7.30. I usually work for about another hour then think about getting dressed, depending on whether I expect visitors. My father-in-law loves comfortable shoes, so is not at ease in open toe sandals, never mind that we live in sweltering heat most of the year. Each to his own.
Aphorisms (a short, pointed sentence expressing a wise or clever observation or a general truth; maxim; adage) and quotations: He loves sayings like "a fool and his money are soon parted", and Latin phrases such as "per ardua ad astra". Fortunately, I know most of these sayings and also paid attention during my Latin classes. We often exchange quotes between Winston Churchill and Lady (Nancy) Astor, such as:
Lady Nancy Astor: Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea.
Churchill: Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it.
Lady Nancy Astor: Mr. Churchill, you are drunk.
Churchill: Yes, Madam, I am drunk, but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly.Biblical references: This morning, he was reminding my mother-in-law about how things that happened in the Bible happen today (now she knows the Bible as well as he, so really does not need this). He recited to her the story of Joseph (see Genesis 37), and how his 11 brothers were jealous that he was the favourite of Israel, their father. His father's love had been shown by a special coloured coat he gave to Joseph. Joseph's dreams suggested that he would become a ruler and the brothers' jealousy become worse. The jealous brothers decided to get rid of Joseph and buried him in a pit, then smeared animal blood on his coat to make believe he was dead. Israel, was distraught. Joseph was sold into slavery to Potiphar, one of the Egyptian Pharaoh's officials. From there stems much Christian history, and the rest of the story you can trace in the Bible.
As I write, they are having a very interesting discussion--it sounds pretty vigorous--about the value of preaching. One is accusing the other of being a Protestant, and another is stating a belief in the Creed (belief in the holy, catholic church). It is Sunday, after all. My father-in-law is saying "talk is cheap, money buy land".
He is just passing me by and is asking that I do not infringe his copyright laws. "Make sure you get the literary parts right. We can argue about the legal aspects later." Got to love him, really.