Paris Portingale

My Brother-in-Law Ray, by the Month. January – April

Paris Portingale shares a year in the life of his idiot brother-in-law Ray. Part one of this four-part series shows Ray inventing a flying lawnmower, celebrating a birthday, and not surviving dinosaurs.


My brother-in-law, Ray, is working on a flying, ride-on lawnmower.

Ray sums up the project:

“Well, for a start, it’s going to have the Datsun 180B engine that’s been there in the garage for like more yonks than I can remember, so that’s good on point one; and point two, it’s a V6 so it’s going to make the thing go like the bejesus, so, big win all round on that one. And also, here’s the brilliant thing, you don’t have to register it because it’s just a lawnmower, so that’s like five hundred bucks in your back pocket right there, straight off the bat.”

Apparently, if I see someone flying over the house, that’s going to be him; and in all honesty, I hope I do because, besides being an abject idiot, which he is, his heart’s in the right place and he’s been needing some sort of a win for quite a long time.

And his mother loves him, God bless her heart.


In hospital after the flying ride-on lawnmower incident.


So, it’s Ray’s birthday and I’m at his yearly birthday barbeque because, as my wife said, “He’s your brother-in-law.” Well, that’s not entirely true as what she actually said was, “You know he’s an idiot, I know he’s an idiot, Jesus Christ, everyone on the planet knows he’s an idiot, but you’re his brother-in-law and it’s his birthday, you goddamn snotty piece of shit, and you’ve got to go even just for the sake of your sister,” and she hit me on the head with a wine bottle which was half empty and didn’t break so it’s pretty clear who was the winner of that one.

Anyway, I got my own back. I got particularly drunk to the point I couldn’t stand up—this was on purpose—and threw up all over myself and collapsed into the flower bed and went to sleep, making the final score for the day 30 nil, my favor.


Ray calls by occasionally. He always parks around the corner. I once asked him about it.

He said, “So you wouldn’t know I’d come.”

I said, “Why?”

He said, “So you wouldn’t have time to hide.”

If you think that’s an odd sort of conversation, you haven’t been put in a position where you’ve had to talk to him.

Anyway, I remember this one time he called around and he was being particularly stupid, certainly more stupid than usual.

I told him, “If dinosaurs were alive today it’d be a totally different story, Ray, because you’d have been eaten on day one,” which was itself pretty stupid, but at least I had an excuse because I’d used the time from when he arrived till the time I said it to get drunk.


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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