31 October 2005

pm's back

In case you hadn't spotted it, the brass plaque is back in place, and all is well in the blogosphere.

28 October 2005

On the way to nursery, S and I stopped under a massive tree (don't ask me what kind) in the park. We wanted to catch leaves, but the winds were light and the yellowy things twirling above were clinging to their perches. S watched for a while then joined in, as I implored the tree to loosen its grip and let us have a leaf to make a wish on. Just as my 3 year old son gave up and chose a specimen from the ground, a curly brown thing tumbled and fell, and I caught it. S was impressed, but only so much - his leaf was, after all, more broad and bright. But I wished for him upon my little brown leaf, all the same. He wanted a wish too, but wasn't too sure how to go about it. I suggested he wish for lots of nice things at Christmas.

More leaves and trees at the Hampstead Theatre last night, at Nell Leyshon's Comfort Me With Apples. I'd not been to the theatre before and didn't take to the building much. The thing of being able to see the bowl of the theatre from behind is quite good, and the gang-plank entrances. But my overall feeling is that the place as a whole is designed to say, Come on in if you think you're posh enough. Which made the extraordinary design of the play all the more appealing, as a relief. It's a beautiful, elegant thing that suits the mood of the piece, and serves its purpose perfectly - in the first act the kitchen of a failing farm, in the second, the orchard of the same.
NL's play has been wonderfully well received, and I thought the two pairs of siblings in the family very well drawn, with Peter Hamilton Dyer particularly affecting as the farmer with arrested development, stifled by mother love. The simple-minded aged brother played by Alan Williams is also a thing of wonder, and the writing between him and his sister (Anna Calder-Marshall) is at times so sublime as to reach Beckettian heights of poetic comedy.
Nell will wince, but there are fascinating contrasts with the other recent play set on an ailing farm, Richard Bean's Harvest. In Comfort, we feel the winds of change blow through the farm rendering it barren, bringing dilapidation of the spirit as much as of the outhouses. In Harvest, the march of time seems like an enemy that is taken on, squared up to and ultimately defeated. Different takes, different outcomes. But it was startling to see a moment where the plays collide - in both, a kitchen table is moved from its habitual place, and the characters in both are invigorated by the change.

Before the play, I met Pippa Ellis, who as part of the literary team at Hampstead has been nurturing Comfort - NL has been resident writer there. Then after, a lovely drink with L and S, and a brief hello with Sally P. And I got a lift home! Sometimes you can't beat a lift home.

25 October 2005

Is it just me, or...

Does Ecover toilet cleaner smell worse than what it's supposed to be neutralising? Perhaps it's sympathetic pregnancy syndrome, but the stuff don't half pen and ink.

In other more salubrious news, I had a smashing time at Danny's Wake Saturday last. It's a two-hander by esteemed comedy writer Jim Sweeney that won a Fringe First at Edinburgh in 1999. Jason Lawson, a colleague in the Belfast project, was directing. I really liked the writing, the gags are good and the characters drawn with care and attention, amplified by JL's good work.
Seeing it at the New End, an upscale black box, and with the running time of just an hour, you could imagine Danny's Wake as an 11pm show at somewhere like the Pleasance Attic, and after you'd spill out into the madness of the Courtyard there, all carousing cast-members, spellbound backpackers and seen-it-all louche London types.
Instead of which you spill out into a leaf-strewn Hampstead lane, and walk up to Whitestone Pond to catch the 210 to Finsbury Park.

23 October 2005

Five Years Ago

I was a miserable blighter, muttering obscenities to myself as I toiled over some bloody ill-conceived nonsense. Whose stupid idea was this, to write a bloody Cinderella? Set in Georgian London, with live harp music, in the Playhouse? I wrote jokes about Turkish coffee and a postal service by balloon. I wrote a scene between Cinders and a mouse. I didn't enjoy myself.
Then I handed it over to Erica Whyman, Soutra Gilmour, Michael Oliva. Director, designer, composer. Erica cast some folk. They rehearsed in the Bear Garden, over the road from the Globe. I suppose, I conceded, this is quite interesting. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, even if I'd not. A choreographer came and taught the actors an elaborate dance for the Ball scene. Kind of like a square dance, in bodices and breeches. And then there was Cinderella herself - Alison Pettitt, who was making wonderful hay with my lines. Where I thought I'd written fey, she read feisty. Where I thought I'd written cheerful, she read exuberant. And so on and so much better than I'd reckoned.
Here they all are on the last night, reaping reward for their heartful, hilarious, touching performances.


From left: Rupert Bates (King George III), Brigitta Roy (Jane Humbleton, Cinders's mother), John Macaulay (Prince Hubert), Melissa Collier (Charlotte Snifflewick - stepsister #1) Alison Pettitt (Ella Humbleton - Cinderella), Eluned Jones (Lady Augusta Snifflewick), Hannah Stokeley (stepsister #2, Euphronia Snifflewick).

The show was called The Glass Slipper, and I'll be damned if I can find a copy of the script anywhere. My agent should have a copy but she can't find hers either. So anyone out there reading this who happens to have the bloody thing, do let me know...

22 October 2005

Tempus fugit. Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas.

It's a quite interesting fact - heard it on QI last night - that fruit flies were the first living things to go into space, in the nosecone of a specially adapted V-2 rocket in 1946.

Did the bar at Southwark last night. Busy busy, as 'Tis Pity is properly sold out, with people queueing for returns and everything. Not only was Keira Knightley in (yes, she is uncommonly pretty) but also my new friend G. The interval was a scrum, in which KK did not participate (I think I sold her friend some soft drinks), G tried to bring some of his King's Head bar managing skills to bear but was beaten to it by L.
It's just ace to see the Playhouse buzzing.

But I wasn't the only one sneezing from all the stardust yesterday. B saw Fiona Shaw out shopping, and also the fabulous Morgan Spurlock.

17 October 2005

Twenty weeks' scan...

It's a boy.
When the sonographer applied the scanner, practically the only thing that could be seen was this oval protuberance between the legs, with little tube attached...
She sent B away with the admonition to have a coffee and a walk.
And lo, when we returned, there he was, jumpin' full of java.
Our BOY.

16 October 2005

Orestes at the Oxford Playhouse. There must be all kinds of allowances for the young performers, some of whom were indeed talented and game. Have to say, though, the directorial ideas were very limited, the staging was a mess, some of the casting decisions were dubious: Electra was twice the size of her brother; Pylades' first entrance was not exactly menacing, as required, but rather camp. And so on. But still the play came through, as a work of such shining genius can never be entirely obscured by its interpreters. There were some decent things, too - I liked the chorus, for instance, better than the one for Prometheus Bound. And there were moments when the speech took off into the operatic, as the characters sang to eerie accompaniment. Went along with Sally W, who lives near Oxford. She knew little of Euripides before, and I'm afraid her first experience of the father of modern drama made him seem as present and enticing as a 25 centuries' old piece of cheese.
We had a nice drink in the Eagle and Child, after - Tolkien's pub. Still haven't read a word or seen a minute of those films.

Earlier, I'd walked up to Lady Margaret Hall, my old college. It was dusk and the porter was about to lock the gates to the gardens, so I wandered the corridors instead, taking in some of the atmosphere of the first week of the academic year. Despite some innovations - the banks of flatscreen monitors in the library, the hi-tech security doors - the place is the same. I looked up, as I usually do, at the window of the room where I lived in my first year, next door to James Allen (now a Formula One commentator for the telly), and down the way from Michael Gove (MP). The choir were singing in the chapel, a notice in chalk informed me the rugby 1st XI had won. It may well have been the women's 1st XI, it being LMH, a women's college until 1978 and with still I believe more or less a 50-50 gender ratio.

Before I forget, I heard Professor Judith Mossman lecture at the Playhouse, before the show. Prof JM is a brilliant Euripides scholar, and she talked about the ways Eur manipulated the expectations of his original audience with his startling reversals and reworkings of myth. It was great to hear her, she's a very engaging speaker. She was teaching at Oxford when I was a student, and probably gave lectures, but as the things were never compulsory of course I hardly ever got my sorry skinny ass out of bed for them.

And finally today... this. When blogs collide. And very pleasant it was too.

14 October 2005


I'm off to Oxford shortly.
Twenty years ago this week I said the same thing to myself as I packed my copy of Dante's Vita Nuova into my case (come on, I was only 18), inscribed with the quote, considerate sempre la vostra semenza (trans, don't forget your roots - forgive me if the spelling's wonky). Having car-less parents I said goodbye in the kitchen and set off for the bus-stop, thence to Lime Street for the train, change at Birmingham.

Going 'up' to see Euripides' play Orestes, performed at the Playhouse in Greek, with surtitles. Will also renew my ticket for the Bodleian. The play is wild, fantastical, brutal, savagely funny, and downright weird. It was a big influence on The May Queen, the play I've just finished. I tried very hard to catch some of that Euripidean spark.

Here's the opening scene.
The play is set in Liverpool during the May blitz of 1941. It opens with a dream sequence, meant to start setting up parallels between my character ANGELA and the mythical husband-killer, CLYTEMNESTRA.


scene one


A confessional grill is suspended in the space.
ANGELA enters, approaches the grill as if it were a furnace, it’s physically difficult for her.
She kneels before it.

ANGELA Forgive me father for I have sinned.

The voice of the PRIEST is heard

PRIEST Yes my child, yes. How long has it been since your last confession?

ANGELA It’s been quite a few months now father.

PRIEST And haven’t we all been tested sorely in the meantime, child. Plagued by evil vermin we are.

ANGELA We are, father.

PRIEST The Devil does his worst as always, now he has these Nazis to carry out his black designs.

ANGELA Yes, father.

PRIEST We mustn’t give him the satisfaction, must we.

ANGELA No, father.

PRIEST And we must try every day to be pure in heart and deed. May the Almighty and His blessed son watch over you every day of your life.

Tell me your sins, child. Be sure of His mercy.

ANGELA I’m too ashamed -

PRIEST Come now.

ANGELA I can’t, father.

PRIEST Come on. It’s only words now. Say the words.

the sound of a distant explosion

ANGELA If He can forgive me for this, what’s the point of Him?

PRIEST But you have to ask.

ANGELA Why do I have to?

PRIEST Because you will burn otherwise.
The pain of your first labour. Call it to mind.

ANGELA O Michael -

PRIEST You were only a girl.

ANGELA His head soaked in my blood -

PRIEST He fought to get out.

ANGELA I near died of him, father -

PRIEST Times that pain by a thousand. And it goes on forever.

ANGELA Forever doesn’t mean a thing to me.

PRIEST Just a moment. Are you ready now, child.

ANGELA I’m ready, father.

the whistle of a bomb falling, then a huge explosion. the sound of breaking glass, debris falling

PRIEST So you’re living in sin with the man that murdered your husband. You’re wanting to confess your part.

ANGELA Yes, father.

PRIEST Go on. They came to blows.

ANGELA They did.

PRIEST You wanted Vinnie to kill Frank. You egged him on.

ANGELA God forgive me.

PRIEST We’ll see about that.

ANGELA His head smashed on the fireplace -

PRIEST Poor Frank.

ANGELA He was looking up at me-

PRIEST Your arms round yer fancy man.

ANGELA Blood comin out of his eye. I’ll never forget it.

PRIEST You never will.

ANGELA He called me Jezebel.

PRIEST It gave you a good feeling, to see him done, the way he used to do you.


PRIEST “Hit him, Vinn! Hit him again!”

ANGELA God forgive us -

PRIEST So Vinnie, ey. The profiteer.


PRIEST He has you, now.

ANGELA He has.

PRIEST Now he wants your daughter -


PRIEST Oh yes - he wants her alright -

ANGELA She’s only a baby -

a burst of heavy machine-gun fire, and a teenage girl laughing

ANGELA The avenging angel is coming, eyes on fire -
in his hands the great golden spear -
he pushes the point home, here -

she indicates her breast

Here, where my children sucked me dry -
The love of God will push into my flesh -
Deep as it will fuckin well go -

PRIEST Christ Our Lord knows all, he sees all, and he knows your burden is very great. You need to put it down, my child. You could do with the rest now, could you not.

ANGELA I could, father.

PRIEST Ecce ancilla Dei.

THE VIRGIN appears, carrying a jar of ashes.
She approaches ANGELA, stands by her.
ANGELA is terrified, and when she speaks her voice is shaking.

PRIEST When your heart is cleansed, then will She intercede for you with her son, Jesus Christ.

ANGELA Ave - Maria -

THE VIRGIN The fruit of my womb is the Redeemer

THE VIRGIN approaches ANGELA, dips her fingers into the jar and raises her fingers in readiness, as if to give the Ash Wednesday blessing

THE VIRGIN I will be with you / at the hour

PRIEST At the hour/ of your death, shame and disgrace

THE VIRGIN Angela Marian Donohue
You once were dust
You will be dust again

PRIEST These are the ashes of him you killed.
(More Ash Wednesday text)

THE VIRGIN smears ANGELA’S forehead with ashes

ANGELA Mother of God,
Have mercy on me -

PRIEST Ask about Michael.
Ask her!

ANGELA He’s away at the war -

PRIEST Here it comes.

sound of a divebomber coming in to attack, machine gun fire. battle noises continue till the end of the scene

THE VIRGIN Your son has seen the fires of Hell -

PRIEST He will meet the demons of the down down down -
He will live among them

ANGELA Oh God...

ANGELA prostrates herself before the Virgin.
THE VIRGIN slowly blesses her, slowly turns and walks away.

ANGELA O please, I never meant for it to happen -

We never planned anythin -

He was the father of my children -

O God - Holy Mother -

My children -

THE VIRGIN turns to ANGELA and opens her mouth and arms wide as if to deliver an aria - only white noise comes out, a dreadful mix of battle sounds, feverish laughter, Nazi rallies and music hall nonsense. It builds to a crescendo, then stops abruptly, with blackout.

13 October 2005

Harry Pinter and the Prize of Nobel

So they finally gave it up to the Cantankerous One. About time too.
Found a delicious story about the old bastard on this blog.
Remember hearing him speak at the Hyde Park rally against British and US belligerence in Iraq, the big pre-invasion one. It was stirring stuff, if a little infra dig. It seemed wrong somehow that such a colossus of language - its nuances, powers, terrors - should be obliged to read his work into a mike and out across the freezing breezes. There should have been a delegation to Downing Street, a citizens' summons served, and Blair et al obliged to listen to the quiet fury of Pinter's blunt instruments, his unsubtly brilliant broadsides.

12 October 2005

Jonathan Swift's version of B's Favourite Song (see previous, and comments)

A Beautiful Young Nymph Going To Bed

Corinna, Pride of Drury-Lane,
For whom no Shepherd sighs in vain;
Never did Covent Garden boast
So bright a batter'd, strolling Toast;
No drunken Rake to pick her up,
No Cellar where on Tick to sup;
Returning at the Midnight Hour;
Four Stories climbing to her Bow'r;
Then, seated on a three-legg'd Chair,
Takes off her artificial Hair:
Now, picking out a Crystal Eye,
She wipes it clean, and lays it by.
Her Eye-Brows from a Mouse's Hide,
Stuck on with Art on either Side,
Pulls off with Care, and first displays 'em,
Then in a Play-Book smoothly lays 'em.
Now dextrously her Plumpers draws,
That serve to fill her hollow Jaws.
Untwists a Wire; and from her Gums
A Set of Teeth completely comes.
Pulls out the Rags contriv'd to prop
Her flabby Dugs and down they drop.
Proceeding on, the lovely Goddess
Unlaces next her Steel-Rib'd Bodice;
Which by the Operator's Skill,
Press down the Lumps, the Hollows fill,
Up hoes her Hand, and off she slips
The Bolsters that supply her Hips.
With gentlest Touch, she next explores
Her Shankers, Issues, running Sores,
Effects of many a sad Disaster;
And then to each applies a Plaster.
But must, before she goes to Bed,
Rub off the Daubs of White and Red;
And smooth the Furrows in her Front,
With greasy Paper stuck upon't.
She takes a Bolus e'er she sleeps;
And then between two Blankets creeps.
With pains of love tormented lies;
Or if she chance to close her Eyes,
Of Bridewell and the Compter dreams,
And feels the Lash, and faintly screams;
Or, by a faithless Bully drawn,
At some Hedge-Tavern lies in Pawn;
Or to Jamaica seems transported,
Alone, and by no Planter courted;
Or, near Fleet-Ditch's oozy Brinks,
Surrounded with a Hundred Stinks,
Belated, seems on watch to lie,
And snap some Cull passing by;
Or, struck with Fear, her Fancy runs
On Watchmen, Constables and Duns,
From whom she meets with frequent Rubs;
But, never from Religious Clubs;
Whose Favour she is sure to find,
Because she pays them all in Kind.
CORINNA wakes. A dreadful Sight!
Behold the Ruins of the Night!
A wicked Rat her Plaster stole,
Half eat, and dragged it to his Hole.
The Crystal Eye, alas, was miss'd;
And Puss had on her Plumpers piss'd.
A Pigeon pick'd her Issue-Peas;
And Shock her Tresses fill'd with Fleas.
The Nymph, tho' in this mangled Plight,
Must ev'ry Morn her Limbs unite.
But how shall I describe her Arts
To recollect the scatter'd Parts?
Or show the Anguish, Toil, and Pain,
Of gath'ring up herself again?
The bashful Muse will never bear
In such a Scene to interfere.
Corinna in the Morning dizen'd,
Who sees, will spew; who smells, be poison'd.

B's Favourite Song When She Was Little

I've just been treated to a rendition of After The Ball, which features in one of B's old piano music books she had as a child, along with more wholesome favourites like The Wheels On The Bus, and My Hat It Has Three Corners. It goes a little something like this...

After the ball was over,
She took out her glass eye,
Put her false teeth in water,
Shook from her hair the dye.
Kicked her cork leg in the corner,
Stripped off her false nails and all,
Then what was left went to bye-byes,
After the ball.


tickety boo

I got a call from the National yesterday.
"Hi, Stephen, it's Nick Hytner here. Listen, I just read your play The May Queen - "
No, wait. That was the dream I had during my nap.
The actual call was from the box office people. Paul Rhys is ill and has had to pull out of the show, so Saturday night's performance of Howard Brenton's Paul is cancelled, along with all the others until they've re-rehearsed. The b.o. was offering me a rescheduled perf later in the year, or tickets for an extra show of the Mike Leigh, Two Thousand Years...
Even though I've got tickets to take B to the ML on our anniversary (Dec 21st), I jumped at an extra pair, remembering just how jealous my parents-in-law were that we were going to it. If you haven't heard, Two Thousand Years is a piece about a North London Jewish family, and R&R were cross that it had sold out.
A quick phone call later, and my son-in-law brownie points stock goes through the roof. Not that they were particularly low, we hosted the Rosh Hashanah (New Year) dinner last week. But then the stock did slightly plunge after I asked for there to be no translation of the Hebrew, as I didn't want God talked about in glowing terms in our house.
Family life. Oy. And don't get me started about the trip to Cumbria last weekend to see my family. We love each other, make no mistake. It's just not that easy spending time together, sometimes. We're going through a transitional period, all of us, as we adjust to Life After Dad. And there are the tumults of child-rearing for all of us - inc Mum, who's doing a lot of baby-minding. Anyway. As Dad (the decorator) used to say, "It'll all dry white."

06 October 2005


I wrote these poems seven or eight years ago*. Most of the time since they've been archived on my friend Danny's old website (you can get to his new one from there). Thanks Dan. I've dusted them off now as penance to Artemis for failing to observe the eclipse on Monday morning, I just done forgot.

*I've remembered I put them together in July 1999 for the thirtieth anniversary of Apollo 11. A month later B and I went to Hungary to see this total eclipse...

the surface

whisper it, but the place
is dead. time was
you could see greenery, shrubbery.
but on the surface, when the dust
settled, the green and the white
and the diamond blue were only
that roving sphere,
nine o'clock, turning world,
trying its best to remember you.

so say your prayers.
kiss the stone while
no one's looking.
where's the harm?
make a sign in the dirt
and ask for clemency,
the resurrection of the body,
a little Sinatra to see you through.

Moon, looking back

trepid explorers trundling
silver sacks of air across
my lovely ocean.

calls and signs, beep
and counterbeep.
Tranquility Base.

ball games. American
president takes a leak
before cocksure glory -

Heaven Now Part of Man's World.

Now Wash Your Hands.

I liked Neil. laughing,
the bottom of the ladder
was as high as he could go.

watched him shake
when Earth came up
smelling of roses.

Moon in winter

keeps his distance, what with
the traffic of nights, the rivers
of cold coursing through brittle cities,
and the lakes
like so many mirrors

you are GO

Frank Borman, Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, Tom Stafford,
John Young, Gene Cernan, Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins,
Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon, Al Bean,
Jack Swigert, Fred Haise, Al Shephard, Stu Roosa,
Ed Mitchell, Dave Scott, Al Worden, Jim Irwin,
Ken Mattingly, Charlie Duke, Ron Evans and Harrison Schmitt

fell under the influence.

one was first,
two saw God,
four went twice,
six flew solo
twelve came to the surface
all were GO

god speed Apollo 8

"at T minus 3 seconds there came a distant rumbling,
like thunder on the horizon, that swelled into a roar... "

three men in a tin can, can-do fellas
in harness, partial to adrenalin,
breaknecks and jet jockeys,
gods on the government payroll,
Borman, Lovell and Anders
save '68 by swinging
around the old moon.

piss, puke, breath, bone, blood.
hearts travelling faster, faster.
roll program, trajectory good,
guidance is good. quickening,
they take in oceans, ranges,
impossible continents.

then the incredible direction ---
translunar injection ---

"Apollo 8 Houston you are Go for TLI ."


Commander Borman blanched, caught
the bile rise, grinned, pinched himself ---

Lovell mentally leant over to Jules Verne,
"I can't believe you talked me into this" ---

Anders, amazing himself, wanted
to go round again, see San Diego.

the computer said, "99. 99. 99,
do you really want to do this?"

Lovell punched the button
like there was no tomorrow ---


time of arrival

Tranquillity gaped at the Eagle
as it fell, as it fell, as it fell ---

Tranquillity was alive to the footfall,
to the one small step of a man.

Tranquillity couldn't be certain
just how long he'd been holding his breath ---

for Tranquillity, time was a flower,
forever unfolding itself.

but when Tranquillity saw the explorers
come bounding like children in winter,

come combing the beach for their treasure,
for crabs' legs and pebbles and pearls,

Tranquillity leapt in the blackness,
and slowly, and slowly fell back ---

enjoying their palpable pleasure,
their serious joy at his world.

05 October 2005

The History Boys, Creditors, 'Tis Pity She's A Whore

Well I liked all three of these. Alan Bennett, August Strindberg and John Ford, formidable storytellers.
Creditors, the Strindberg at Southwark, was laudably intense and emotional, the pitch and pace never waned in the unravelling of what is actually rather a simple tale of jealousy and menage a troiserie. All credit to the young actors Cassie Rain, Tom McClane and Nicholas Figgis.

I had more problems with the Bennett, which isn't to say I didn't enjoy it muchly. Went with B and we had a fine old time, the jokes come thick and fast, the ensemble writing is matchlessly fluid and sparky, the emotional punches hit home. No it's just that I thought it wasn't a play, really. Or more exactly, it wasn't primarily a play, but a script written first to be filmed but with just enough structural solidity to hold together in the Lyttleton. Almost every scene was followed by a hiatus in which an 80s pop song kicked in (Madness, Duran Duran etc), a short film sequence of the characters was shown on a large back projection, and the cast and stagehands busied themselves rearranging the set in the semi-dark. Preposterous, really. For the National Theatre. Again, I have to say the writing is sublimely humane and funny. The sexual politics is very interesting and the depiction of that bygone age of single-sex grammar school boys striving to get to Oxbridge is brilliant (I know, because I was there). I just wonder if it's really a play. Or whether, more precisely, if its status as a hit play, while clearly deserved because of the skill, wit and verve of the thing, doesn't owe something to its televisual nature. Susannah Clapp wrote in the Observer: 'As the play weaves between past and present, there are a few rickety moments - a sputtering start, some storylines which fizzle out - but no one who responds to it will care.' Well, actually... I for one did respond to it - I laughed my head off - but I did care about its flaws.

Saw 'Tis Pity She's A Whore last night and while I don't quite share the inordinate passion for the acting expressed by Fiona Mountford in the Standard, I did find it riveting and extremely well done, and Charlie Cox and Mariah Gale were stunning as the doomed siblings. I've seen countless things at Southwark but have seldom seen the space used better. It's never smelled better, either - the company fill it with Catholic incense (yum). I'd not seen the play before and found the denouement really quite shocking...

03 October 2005

Infra Dig

She: (scrubbing a fortnight's worth of gunge off the hob) D'you know, I think I'm the only member of my family, near and extended, that doesn't have a cleaner? I've married beneath me.

Me: Sorry 'bout that.