Tickety Boo Or Not So Pucker



Last late Spring I had occasion to be in Scotland. A marvellous country filled with beautiful scenery and plenty of history. I realised that I was fairly near to a place where I had spent a handful of childhood holidays and decided to drive to the location to ascertain if it remained as I remembered it. I found the estate with ease and followed the single track road trying to catch a glimpse of something, anything that I remembered from our visits here. It was as I turned from the track onto a driveway that I knew I had found the correct place. I halted my vehicle and stared down the driveway. It was lined with scores of cherry trees which were in full blossom. I remembered the first time I saw this drive way and was taken aback at the vibrancy of the pink blossom and how it rained upon us as my father drove us down the driveway, the breeze displacing the blossom and causing it to cascade over us. It was quite the picture and something that I have always recalled although not as much as what came next.

We had spent a week staying at a five star hotel about an hour away from where we were now. This was at the insistence of my mother who had declared,

“If I am to rough it then I want my luxury either side of it.”

Typically a cold fury ensured until my father, as ever, conceded and agreed that we would stay for a week before and four days afterwards at the sumptuous hotel. The place we now headed to was an estate owned by a friend of my father. They had both been in the Royal Air Force together and Geraint, his friend, had removed himself to Scotland to oversee this estate. My mother had said nothing from the moment we had checked out from the hotel that morning. She sat, her icy rage chilling the interior of the car as my father drove us to the estate. My sister babbled incessantly during the journey, commenting on everything we passed in order to fill the silence. My father concentrated on the road ahead being well-used to these frozen car journeys and no doubt wondering how my mother would continue to behave once we arrived. I knew exactly what she would do and I could see my reflection as I grinned with anticipation.

Our car slowly drove along this bright pink tunnel until we halted by a gate. Set on a hillock to the right was a large and impressive house from which a figure, who I assumed was Geraint, half-walked half-jigged. His red corduroy pants housed two legs which skipped across the carefully manicured lawn that embraced the hillock, the colour contrasting with the mustard of his jumper and the green of the shirt beneath. He was as colourful as the entrance to his estate. My father lowered the window as Geraint neared and bellowed into the car,

“Hello hello, well how are you all you wonderful people, tickety boo or not so pucker?”

The rear of the car exploded into laughter at this expression. We had not heard anything like it and coupled with this multi-coloured man who bore a huge grin on his face we were mightily amused. This became the mantra for the week as my siblings and I would ask one another at any opportunity whether he or she was tickety boo or not so pucker. Still laughing I watched as my mother leant towards my father’s side of the car and trilled,

“Geraint how positively marvellous to see you. You look excellent well. I must say we are so looking forward to staying with you this week, it is awfully kind of you to accommodate us. It looks glorious, tell me how is your wife?”

I smirked as what I came to know as the façade was rolled out. I glanced at the rear view mirror to see my father’s reaction. As I suspected it was one of relief.

We children enjoyed our week. We had been housed in a large cottage which was clearly one which belonged to someone who had worked the estate in the past, a farmer or woodsman perhaps. Geraint occupied the main house where we dined three times if I remember correctly and there were fifteen cottages scattered across the estate. We spent our days locating them and adding them to the map we made of the extensive estate. My mother alternated between being fragrant and charming whenever she met Geraint and his family (tickety boo) to then sitting in silence when consigned to the cottage (not so pucker). As usual my father flapped about her trying to extoll the virtue of the cottage and its simpler way of life. The cottage had a permanent musty smell and it was necessary to chop logs outside to burn in the fireplaces and place in the aga range to provide cooking and heating facilities. We enjoyed this difference to the usual conveniences we enjoyed at home but my mother did not. She passed no adverse comment. She did not need to as she had repeatedly berated my father when at the hotel about his choice in coming to stay in this “bloody medieval hovel” and it seemed to me that the lap of luxury which she had insisted on had been not so pucker for her since she spent all of her time slating my father for wanting to see his old RAF pal. The blaming and name-calling then gave way to her iciness for the entire week. I do not recall my mother speaking to my father save when we were in the presence of Geraint and his family when my mother was charm personified, complimentary and quite the star of the dinner table.

Yes this trip stuck in my memory for many reasons but most of all for my exposure to the phrase tickety boo or not so pucker. I saw how these polar states were played out by my mother as part of her manipulation of my father, her quite amazing vacillation between delightful charm and muted resentment. She shone and then she iced over. I have come to realise that this entertaining phrase is most apt for our kind. Either everything is tickety boo, wonderful, marvellous and golden or it is not so pucker, awful, horrible, terrible and cruel. There is never any middle ground. No neutral. We do not do mediocre or mundane. We either give you tickety boo or subject you to not so pucker.

36 thoughts on “Tickety Boo Or Not So Pucker

  1. JennRenee40 says:

    Wow…I know this scene all too well. My husband is always so “tickety boo” when others are around (namely women and his buddies.) But come be a fly on the wall in MY house for a few days and all you see is the “not so pucker.” FUN STUFF!

  2. Violetta says:

    HG, you’ve said that you have introduced your IPPSs to your mother. What reactions have you seen, and which do you prefer?
    A. 1. Your mother approves of your choice, and you are glad not to be criticized and to have this impressive appliance of a girlfriend;
    2. Your mother disapproves, and you are glad because you’ve annoyed and defied her;

    B. 1. Your IPPS dislikes your mother, and you’re glad the old bitch has been seen through;
    2. Your IPPS likes or at least respects your mother, as she should, because who is she to criticize your mother? That’s your department.

    I’m sure I’ve left out some possibilities.

    I’m wondering specifically because in college, I dated a genuine Upper-Class Twit (US variety: Social Register, since we don’t have titles here), and I got the distinct impression he was dating a left-leaning (then) actress mostly to annoy his mother, and was secretly hoping I would tell her off, since he didn’t dare.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      When I was younger it was A1 but now it is A2.

      B1. The introduction is of course during seduction, so the IPPS or Candidate IPSS sides with me against a common enemy.

      1. Eternity says:

        HG. I can only imagine how many you brought home to meet you mom. Did she ever get along with ex wife ? What about SM ?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          She got along with my ex wife for the most part.
          Owing to professional commitments the meetings between SM and MN have been limited and cordial.

          1. Eternity says:

            Thank you , very interesting HG.

          2. HG Tudor says:

            You are welcome.

      2. Violetta says:

        Thank you.

      3. FYC says:

        HG, Given your Matrinarc, it would be hard to imagine any other reaction than B1 at any time. I envision even her tickety boo as transparent and repelling. Then again, as a loyal supporter of yours, I may be biased.

  3. lickemtomorrow says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this story from your childhood, HG, and how it draws out the element of narcissism that also existed in your mother. Your powers of observation are in full view as you describe the experience. Thank you.

  4. Eternity says:

    HG , it sounds like your dad put up a lot from.your mom over the years. Did your mom ever remarry after your dad passed away.?

    1. HG Tudor says:


  5. FYC says:

    HG, This post is one of my favorites for several reasons.

    I recently watched the movie, “The Good Liar”, and the phrase “tickety boo” was used more than once. Every time I hear that saying, it reminds me of you and your story with a smile. By the way, if you have not seen this movie you may enjoy it. It stars Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Helen Mirren. It provides a good example of a few narcissists in action, with a clever twist.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you.

      1. Eternity says:

        HG, sorry to go off topic but have you seen Layer Cake with Daniel Craig ? I saw Narcissist there if I am not mistaken. Good movie.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          I have.

          Which character are you referring to as the narcissist?

          1. Eternity says:

            It was a hard one to be honest but I think George. Harris (Morty) am I wrong ?

          2. Eternity says:

            Actually looking back I think the man who gave the speech and said drinks are on me.

    2. Kim e says:

      I love both those actors but after watching the preview I just cant bring myself to watch the movie as I knew immediatly what his game was. Must be the contagion in me.
      Glad you enjoyed it.

      1. FYC says:

        Hi Kim e, I hope you are doing well. I understand your feelings, and there are parts that would very much cause you discomfort, but it’s educational with regard to narcissists and the ending is very satisfying.

    3. Sweetest Perfection says:

      Yes I commented the same a while ago, FYC. God movie, don’t you think? I also saw the narcs!

      1. FYC says:

        Hi SweetP, How are you? I missed your earlier comment or I would have enjoyed this film sooner! Yes, this movie portrays more than a few of the N behaviors covered here on KTN. I think for people who have not been educated at KTNU, they may find the film a bit slow or dull, but with HG goggles on, one sees smooth and subtle delivery of a multitude of manipulations and the twists and turns of the player and the played.

        1. Sweetest Perfection says:

          Hi FYC, I’m well, thanks for asking, and I hope so are you! I enjoyed this movie and didn’t think it was slow, the cast is also excellent and it’s a pleasure to see their acting. But of course the moment the sentence was brought out by that character immediately made me giggle. KTN definitely changes your life, in many ways…

          1. FYC says:

            SweetP, I am very well, thank you, and I am glad to know you too. I agree, KTN and HG certainly do change us all for the better in more ways than I would have originally anticipated.

          2. FYC says:

            Sorry SP, that should read, “I am glad to know you are too!” I really need to slow my typing to increase accuracy.

          3. Sweetest Perfection says:

            Don’t worry, FYC. I used to be a maniac of self-correction but then I realized everyone has a typo here and there so it’s ok if it can be understood.

          4. FYC says:

            SweetP, I’m glad you read past it and thank you for your kindness. I do not mind other’s typos in the least, it’s just something I’d like to improve upon.

          5. Sweetest Perfection says:

            “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” This was said by James Joyce, who dedicated most of his later life to write a book that was full of “intentional” typos (not really, it was much more than that). If HG can have typos in his books, so can we, FYC.

          6. Violetta says:

            I’ve worked as a professional proofreader, copy editor, and college English instructor. Like everybody else, I make typos.

          7. Sweetest Perfection says:


          8. FYC says:

            SweetP and Violetta, Thank you for your kind words. You are appreciated.

          9. Sweetest Perfection says:

            Hey, on another note, HG just launched the audio version of Narc Tales!! Who cares about typos when you have THE VOICE!??

          10. HG Tudor says:

            Indeed and the voice in full effect. Those who enjoyed the bonus material from the recent AAF donation will find this an absolute delight.

          11. Sweetest Perfection says:

            Hahaha. Got it.

          12. Violetta says:


  6. Ashley says:

    My favorite

Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous article

Why is Divorce So Hard?