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And I wonder
Why why why why why …

Oddly — such is the nature of serendipity and the perverse Muses — last week’s ramblings on mummified monstrosities were stimulated by a young couple in my local supermarket, trying to herd their boisterous and inquisitive offspring round the store without him spreading the contents of the lower shelves around the aisles.

They were doing a reasonable job, so my amusement never tipped over into annoyance, or even homicide. But what struck me most was a phenomenon that has long intrigued me, as someone who has never been permitted to breed (for no doubt sound reasons): why do parents refer to themselves in the third person when addressing their offspring? It seems almost instinctive; either that or it’s learnt from hearing it done all the time. But why?

Now, were I to reproduce (we’re back in the realms of horror stories, aren’t we?), I would be torn between having my sprogs address me simply by my name, or the more tempting and archaic system of having them call me ‘Guv’nor’. In response to the latter, I would of course address a son as ‘Sir and a daughter as ‘Madam’ (I’m too woke to call her ‘Miss’ or ‘Young Lady’, obviously). But whichever I chose, I like to think I would refer to myself when speaking to them as ‘I’ or ‘me’, depending on case — I would obviously never ever say something like ‘your mother and me are going out; apply yourself to your studies until our return, Sir’.

It baffles me, is all. Just saying.