‘Last year my mother bought me Lion King socks with Simba ear embellishments.’ Photograph: Allstar/Walt Disney Pictures
Adult learner

Being the youngest never leaves you – I went to work in Lion King socks

My family’s idea of me will never change, even when I’m trying to celebrate my 50th


Recently I was interviewing someone for an article – a serious article about serious stuff – and I noticed they were distracted by something on the floor: my feet. Specifically, my socks: Lion King socks with Simba ear embellishments that were poking out above the shoe’s tongue. This professional embarrassment is my mother’s fault. She bought me the socks last year; I am merely an idiot who ran out of other pairs to wear.

For the longest time, I was the youngest in my family and even though I no longer am, I remain frozen in that era. For example, as a teen I said in passing that I liked prawns, even though I’ve often said since that I prefer other proteins. If we eat out, someone will invariably tap me on the wrist: “Oh you’ll love this dish. It’s got prawns.”

Back then, I also read a lot of harrowing books, though I shirk the morbid now. Whenever there is something sombre on TV, someone will say, “I bet Coco will like this emo stuff” to which I also scream, “I am not emo!” and lose my argument.

For years I’ve daydreamed about moving to mainland Europe. “You’re too young,” Mum will say, or if she’s in the mood for some Asian drama: “You want to leave your own mother? Here is a knife, just kill me yourself.” And although I point out that she was just 18 when she left home for Britain, and I am 31, she will say that I am her baby and must stay at her side for ever.

It will never change. I will be trying to celebrate my 50th with a sophisticated soiree, and my family will roll through with a cake shaped like a prawn and someone dressed like Pumbaa. Maybe I should stop fighting it. These are, at least, very comfortable socks.