When my grandfather died, I inherited two things: his complaint letters and his Australian flag jumper. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The jumper, as you shall see, is a rare gem, hand-knitted by Roma Henningham (aka Grandma) herself and worn with pride by Bruce at many a social gathering in his home town of Wagga Wagga, and the complaint letters are, pound for pound, the funniest things I have ever read. I recently decided to pay tribute to them on stage as part of my stand-up act (see below). I have a feeling that they could make a good book one day.
Grandfather (it was always Grandfather, not Grandpa or Pa) was a fine man in the way that only older gents can be. He was the owner of a handsome pair of driving gloves, which were donned with meticulous care at the beginning of every vehicular outing. He had an ashtray in his car, which, when opened, revealed a hand-written sign in beautiful calligraphy which read: “Don’t you dare!” He owned a pet rock and wrote letters about it to his local paper. (Later, anonymous locals would go on clandestine missions to plant rocks on his doorstep until he had a healthy collection.) He would sit silently at dinner parties, then, when coaxed, come out with a long-winded joke or a ripper yarn that would have everybody at the table in stitches. He loved cricket, he loved the queen and to my eternal gratitude, he loved to write letters.
My grandma came to visit Hong Kong recently and the topic of conversation was Grandfather’s favourite jumper. She had originally bequeathed it to some ungrateful soul who had apparently never seen fit to wear it, at least not in Grandma’s presence. Hearing this fortuitous news, I quickly raised my hand and said that I would be happy to take it, because what could be more classic than my grandfather’s old hand-knitted jumper?
I have since worn the jumper on a few special occasions: to perform stand-up (see below) and to my birthday party and despite some protests (“That’s the worst jumper I’ve ever seen.” – Anonymous Brother), it has gone down a treat. It turns out that I have a bit in common with Bruce. We both despise poor customer service and are happy to put pen to paper to pursue the issue. We both love stories, jokes and playing with words. We both look fabulous in pale blue.
I inherited my grandfather’s jumper. It’s a cozy fit.