“I’m not saying the. mother-in-law is ugly, but if beauty is only skin deep she must’ve been born inside out!”Les Dawson.

Above an example of the decades old British comedians love affair with mischievous quips made at the expense of their wife’s mother. The late Les Dawson, one of my comedy heroes, an accomplished exponent of disparaging whimsy targeting his missus’ mum.

Like most of those who utilised this style of jocularity, the slights were made with tongue very firmly pressed in cheek. For all that Dawson mocked his matriarchal in law, though, anecdotally it’s said away from his act he actually got on well with Mrs D’s mater.

I never got on with my late mother-in-law, something I’d mischievously broached within a few narratives prior to her passing at the end of 2018. Not wanting to speak ill of the dead, though, that avenue of mirth has remained firmly barricaded since her demise.

Within two months of her passing, I spend four days in hospital following a heart attack. Two months later another life threatening illness, a gastric bleed caused by contracting the heliobacter virus. Consequently, as I don’t believe in coincidences, I now avoid disparaging utterances about her. This borne not just from a belief you shouldn’t speak ill of the deceased, but additionally the fact I’m bloody terrified she”ll be third time lucky!

Ordinarily, I remain sceptical about what awaits us in the after-life. Until my heart attack, I remained unconvinced it exists. Those two near death experiences, shortly after my estranged wife’s mother passed to the other side, has resulted in GJ Strachan adopting a more open mind on the topic. Leading to increased alertness when crossing the road, along with greater care when chopping onions (or indeed any other foodstuffs).

Call me neurotic, but I exist under a paranoia similar to that of Tony Soprano in the last ever episode of the eponymous HBO drama. Constantly on high alert because you feel something bad’s heading your way; you’re just not sure where and when. Soprano’s potential killers the New York organised crime family, mine a vengeful mother-in-law from beyond the grave.

Of course, I could be imagining the whole thing, but with the stakes so high, ie me carking it, vigilance has to be the watchword. Borrowing from the UK government’s coronavirus advice of ‘Stay Alert > Control the Virus > Save Lives‘, I now live by the mantra of ‘Stay Alert > Watch for Hitmen > Save my life’.

This fear of retribution from the other side means, despite finding them witty, I definitely won’t be tempting fate by borrowing anymore of Les Dawson’s mother-in-law quips. Familial gems such as:-

” I saw six men kicking and punching the mother-in-law. My neighbour said ’Are you going to help?’ I said ’No, six should be enough.

I can always tell when the mother in law’s coming to stay; the mice throw themselves on the traps.

My mother-in-law has so many wrinkles, when she smiles she looks like a Venetian blind.