About 30 years ago, a friend and her 18-month old son came to stay with me for a few days. The delightful little lad had a running joke with his Mum featuring Mickey Mouse, the famous cartoon character. This was that when he filled his nappy he would often say “Mickey’s got a poo-y bum”. That was his way of distancing himself from a sticky issue by communicating an occurrence of it with reference to a shared cultural figure. Of course his mother and any other adults present knew exactly what he meant, and he knew that we knew. His use of distancing was humorous.
Later that day I heard a man on the radio, who by the sound of it was probably in his 50s or 60s. He was from the lower orders of society – petty bourgeois or working class. “I like the Duke of Edinburgh,” he said. “He takes all the knocks. Doesn’t complain.” This he said in a grim “suffering” voice, and without any humour.
I learnt a lot that day.
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