My life currently feels like it is a television show being hosted by David Dimbleby, and not one of those nice ones where people are driven around in horse-drawn carriages to open parliament or get married at Westminster Abbey. No, my life currently feels like David Dimbleby is hosting and moderating a debate in which members of the audience get to fire questions at me non-stop until either I crack or they fall asleep. So far it has been rather more of the former than the latter unfortunately.
N has always been a questioning sort of girl, never happy with your first, or second answers, always probing for just a little more information, that extra juicy nugget. But she has, over time, developed an incessant thirst for knowledge, which she will attempt to drill out of you with the persistence of a particularly scrappy terrier. She will grab onto any stray comment and pull at it mercilessly until you have been forced to admit that you misspoke and clearly what you meant was the exact opposite of what you ended up saying. There are some days when I feel like a particularly inept Joshua Lyman facing the hostile White House press corps.
What this questioning has done however is encourage her to develop a rather unique questioning style which I think, having revealed it here, will soon be picked up by journalists up and down the country. A typical conversation with my daughter at the moment goes something like this:
Me: Some innocent remark which I don’t feel will land me in any trouble whatsoever.
N: The same remark repeated word-for-word with the word ‘doing?’ following it with an inflection which can only have been inspired by listening to too many Australians.
Me: An answer explaining the original remark in a way which makes it crystal clear and can be the subject of precisely no follow up questions.
N: That answer, again repeated word-for-word with the same ‘doing?’ at the end, this time pitched a little higher as her irritation with my stalling increases.
Me: A final clarification of my position, leaving no stone unturned in my attempt to explain everything whilst beginning to feel a little flustered and wondering why we can’t just move on to a safer subject.
N: A repetition of my previous answer, with perhaps a word or two mispronounced just to throw me off completed by the dreaded word, ‘doing?’ said in a tone so accusatory I half expect to see the jury members tut and shake their heads whilst muttering to each other that I should just have plead guilty from the beginning.
Me: Momentarily shaken by the realisation that this is not a courtroom after all, I remain silent for all of 5 seconds, which is a mistake as it gives an opportunity for
N: Scenting her opportunity, repeats the same repetition as before with the same closing word, ‘doing?’ this time reinforced by a glare to reassure the viewers at home that she has seen my weakness and is going for the kill
Me: Some feeble excuse followed by an acknowledgement of the fact, now clear to everyone, that my first statement was obviously a misrepresentation of all that is right.
N: Again a regurgitation of my previous statement, again followed by ‘doing?’, this time in a tone so pitying, and yet with such glee, that I feel whatever self respect I had just leaking out of me.
Me: Some excuse about being unfit for interview at present and please could we cut this short At which point I struggle with my microphone wire and stumble away.
My life feels like it is a programme being hosted by David Dimbleby, the problem is it’s a two year old Jeremy Paxman that’s asking the questions.