Paris Portingale

My Brother-In-Law, Ray: Nice Chap, but an Idiot

You, too, probably have a family member like Ray. And you’ll see them around the holidays. This is an ode to all the Rays in our families. Part 1 of 3.



I’ve got this brother-in-law, Ray. He’s a nice chap, but he’s an idiot. And when you add to that the fact he’s got an abnormally and quite annoyingly small head—think refrigerator with an apple on top—and a voice like a squeaking spin drier working at full throttle, you’ll understand that being around him for any length of time can be trying.

As I said, he’s an idiot; well-meaning, but an idiot. Last month he converted his old Ford Falcon to be self-driving. He’d heard something about it on the news and thought it was a bloody handy idea. As he put it, “I’m going to make the bastard drive itself.”

It took him the full day because of all the back-and-forth trips to the hardware store as he’s not a man who plans ahead. When it was finished, the device consisted of a brick suspended over the accelerator on a piece of string attached to the gear lever. He only tried it out the once. He set it off down the road and it never came back.

There was a similar experience with the remote-controlled lawnmower/chainsaw, a frightening fucking contraption that destroyed the entire backyard and cut the next door’s cat in half. The thing only stopped when the petrol ran out.

And just one more. Last birthday I gave him a toaster because the month before he’d modified his to be a detonator for a bomb he’d made so he could practice on being a bomb disposal expert. I told him it was a pretty dangerous occupation and maybe he should go back to working on being a fireman, which in hindsight probably wasn’t the wisest idea, but at the time he was trying to work out if he should cut the red or the green wire first and I was a bit panicky and just wanted to fuck the fuck off out of it. Anyway, the upshot was he had to get a taxi to the hospital because he’d stuck the thing underneath his car to make it more lifelike.

It’s been said that God looks after drunks and children, but I suspect there’s a special clause in there somewhere that includes Ray.


Ray and Religion.

According to my brother-in-law, Ray, all the religions are crap. He still wants to go to heaven, so he’s made up his own where Jesus was a famous sword fighter who could make wine come out of his nose. He’s even made up his own bible which, even with the extra-large handwriting, is only three pages long; although, to his credit, he has gone to the trouble of including illustrations—mainly pictures cut out of a motoring magazine and some of his old Playboys.

With regard to Christianity, the most disappointing thing for Ray about Jesus was he couldn’t fly. Ray likes to point out that he couldn’t even run really fast. Other apparently important powers Jesus lacked were: becoming invisible, x-ray vision, freezing things with his breath, and going backwards in time. He claims that’s what’s kept Christianity from being a really great religion and why he’s not going to be in it.

Ray has recently written to the Pope and The Archbishop of Canterbury about this, telling them they should sharpen up their act and maybe consider changing the logo of Jesus on the cross, which is a total downer, and have it be a picture of Jesus flying through the air like Superman. He’s currently waiting for a reply.

Ray probably will go to heaven because, even though he’s an idiot, he’s well-intentioned and I think God will take that into account.


Ray and Flies.

Ray has an ongoing problem with flies, particularly from around Christmas to early February when it’s hot here and they’re at their most active. They drive him mad and I think the flies know it. Anywhere there’s flies, they’re all there annoying Ray. I don’t know what they have against him, it could be anything.

Case in point, I was at one of Ray’s Saturday afternoon barbecues recently. Ray had passed out on the lawn and naturally he was covered with flies. The thing was, lying next to him was his friend Barry who’d passed out and then shat himself. Now that’s something that would normally attract at least a couple of flies, but he didn’t have a single fly on him, they were all over trying to annoy the fuck out of Ray.

I remember this one year, mid-December, coming up to the holidays, Ray saying to me, “I hate fucking Christmas, it just attracts the flies. Why can’t it be in winter? Winter, the bastards fuck off somewhere to regroup. They’re devious little fucks. I don’t like them, and I can tell you this, I don’t fucking trust them.”

One year, to keep the fucking bastard things at bay, Ray pulled a windscreen wiper off one of his old Fords and fitted it to his head with a couple of straps. The thing kept falling off and carrying around the battery proved a bastard and he ended up putting it back. Naturally it fell straight off.

I don’t know anyone else who’s such an idiot he even annoys the flies. I think for Ray that’s a personal best.


Next Up: Ray and Outer Space. Ray, Philosophy, and Computers. Ray and His Girlfriend.



Paris Portingale

Paris Portingale is a writer and dog owner. While having a somewhat indifferent attitude towards abstemious self-restraint, he does follow the safe guidelines of four standard drinks a day, although his standards are a great deal higher than most, certainly the medical profession’s. Paris is visited often in the night by God, and the meetings are anything but pleasant.

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