The sweet sounds of a strangled cat
MY mum thinks I can sing.
Which is very cute in the way only a mother could be so misguided about her eldest child.
My wife thinks I can't sing and is anything but cute when it comes to making her feelings known.
"He sounds like a strangled cat," she will tell anyone willing to listen.
The truth is probably somewhere in between.
When I was a young bloke I could sing a bit.
Or at least I wasn't the worst singer in the class when the Sisters of Mercy decided to form a little singing group for special occasions like school fetes and end-of-year concerts.
There were seven or eight of us accompanied by a young priest on a guitar and we did all the classics - Kumbiah, Cat's in the Cradle, Scarborough Fair and just about anything by John Denver.
They were heady days although looking back 45 years later, I wonder if I was there for my singing or because mum was willing to drive us to performances.
I know that's the only reason I was in the school cricket team.
But my mum clings to those glory days and still believes her first-born can hold a tune.
Who am I to deny her that misguided joy?
My wife, on the other hand, has heard me in full voice ... at rock concerts, in nightclubs, driving the car, in the shower, on the toilet and kicking back with a drink or three while listening to the stereo.
Which is where we have another disagreement.
She's hip to the groove of the young guys and chicks, so likes a bit of Justine Beiber, Miley Cyrus and those other young ones.
I still live by the creed that, with a few exceptions, if it was released after 1983, it's probably rubbish.
They say there are two things you shouldn't talk about at a dinner party - politics and religion.
They are top of the agenda when the Bathersby clan gets together.
But if you want to hear the sound of crickets chirping, mention my singing in front of my mum and my wife.
"Oh Damian's a lovely singer," my mum will say.
"Like a cat being strangled," my wife retorts.
"He could have made a career out of it," mum will hit back.
"What, scaring the birds out of the fruit trees?" my wife will return serve.
"Bloody sick cat plummeting from a roof."
It can go on for days, with family members cheering from the sidelines until one of my sisters says something that singles her out as the weakest in the herd and the pack turns on her.
It's how we roll when we get together.
I could write a song about it, if you liked.
And sing it too.
To the tune of Kumbiah My Lord.
Or maybe not.