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….you just put your lips together and blow. That was sage advice from Lauren Bacall to Humphrey Bogart, and seemingly easy to follow. I mean, everyone knows how to whistle, don’t they? I certainly do, although if you asked me who taught me I’d be stumped. This won’t be a problem for my son though as I have, seemingly without really meaning to, taught him how to do it.


It happened during a brocante – a French car boot sale that I’ve mentioned a few times before – that we were attending with my in-laws and their friend. They were actually selling that day, much to the chagrin of my father-in-law. He wasn’t too fussed about doing it, but that was nothing compared to his partner’s attitude. She had a stall, full of items that weren’t drawing much attention, but this lack of attention may have had less to do with their appeal and more to do with her stony face.


All evening long she sat there (well, until my son sat in her chair and promptly emptied his drink all over it, then she stood) with a face as long as your arm. ‘How’s it going?’ my partner had enquired, approximately 2 hours after the brocante had started. ‘It’s awful, I hate it, I want to go home’ responded my (almost) mother-in-law.


Yet even though the brocante wasn’t a financial success I will never forget it, as it was the day I taught my son how to whistle. I was sat there, whistling to myself when I realised he was mimicking me, and not doing a half-bad job. Every now and again you could hear a little squeak, as a tune desperately fought its way out from between his lips, like some kind of animal trapped in a pothole. We sat there for the duration, him trying again and again to make a tune, me earnestly watching him, and giving him pointers on his technique.


I should point out at this juncture, that I’m no whistling expert. I can do the three basic whistles 1) pursed lips 2) that one where you sort of whistle with your bottom lip 3) the ‘Wolf-Whistle’ as it’s called in the UK, which involves you rolling back your tongue, inserting your thumb and forefinger into your mouth and letting rip. It should be pointed out that the Wolf-Whistle is incredibly loud, if done correctly (If done incorrectly it just sounds like a wet fart), and so I had to wait for a lull in the people not buying goods at our stall before I demonstrated it.


I’ve no idea what the non-purchasers passing our stall thought of us, a young boy ostensibly blowing air through pursed lips into a middle-aged man’s face – but we didn’t care. He’d pretty much figured out the technique by the end of the evening (it was a late evening brocante) and he spent the trip back to the car, and the return journey, saying the same thing ‘Listen to me daddy!’ and there would then follow the sound of air being blown between lips with the odd – but increasingly frequent – tuneful note slipping out.


As I tucked him into bed that night and gave him a kiss he looked at me and said ‘Thank you for teaching me how to whistle daddy’. I closed the door quietly and then slipped back downstairs, already thinking I would have to write a blog about this occasion which, while not being up there with learning to ride a bike, still warranted commemorating.


The warm, fuzzy feeling lasted approximately 5 minutes after which I had to go back upstairs and separate my lovely son from his lovely sister. Great kids but, like so many things in life, left in close proximity to each other – which we have to do when we stay at the in-laws – they just fight.


And guess who has to go up an referee it, using a ‘whistle’ of sorts? Yup, muggins here.


Yes, while I love being a dad, every now and again it blows…