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Smoking With Liesl Jobson

June 15, 2004

Art by Marty D. Ison

The image of underwear as a source of information is unique. What would its universal message be?

Once upon a time, in my husband’s youth, the dog brought home a lacy scrap from the neighbour’s yard. At 14, he imagined this a nice memento which he thought to keep. The maid, in her horror, grabbed it from him and returned it to its rightful owner. He is still discussing this loss in therapy 30 years on.

The moral of the story?

Underwear reveals far more than most people imagine. Select yours carefully and with full consciousness about the statement you may inadvertently make.

Did your mother never warn you to change your underwear regularly, lest you be struck by a truck, and are found by the ambulance man to have grubby knickers?

My son simply turns his inside out when he has worn them for a couple of days. The socialisation process is a long, slow one. That is the universal message of underwear.

Lingerie aside, what was your inspiration for this piece?

A bitter divorce, a stepmother that is not evil, a daughter that scrutinises my maternal foibles and refers to my undergarments as ‘tents’. Call that inspiration? I call it mortification.

What do you find challenging about writing flash fiction?

Finding time to write them.

The relationship of Mother to Daughter is pivotal to this piece. What relationships do you enjoy writing about? find challenging?

I have enjoyed writing about my children, sisters, parents, husband, in-laws, boss, colleagues, neighbours, students, physiotherapist, GP, pets and the guy who cleans my classroom. The only place any of them ever do what I wish is in my stories, where I like them all better.

What would your creative outlet be if you were not able to write?

If I could not write I would presumably not have hands. That would trouble me deeply. I am terribly attached to my hands. I play the piano badly, the flute passably and the bassoon well. Or at least, I used to. The National Orchestra where I once played third bassoon and contra has curled up its toes and I grieve its demise every time I turn on Classic FM and hear a piece I once performed.

Should a hideous accident befall me, leaving me just a stub of a knuckle, I would still peck out the stories I wanted to tell. Without a knuckle stub, I would type with toes. If my toes later fell off, I would invest in voice recognition software and I would sing my stories into the microphone.

If one day I have neither hands, toes nor voice, I hope someone will be sufficiently merciful to pull the plug.


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