Bourne ultimatum: Mother-in-law from hell branded 'Miss Fancy Pants' by bride’s father
'She is so far up her own backside she doesn't know whether to speak or fart...'
Published 01/07/2011 | 05:05
A mother's email to her son's fiancee, delivering an ultimatum over her manners, has become an internet sensation.
Many would have hoped for, but few expected, such a spectacular escalation in hostilities ahead of what has suddenly become the summer's most-talked-about wedding. Enter the father of the bride.
"My humble opinion of this Carolyn is that she is so far up her own backside she really doesn't know whether to speak or fart," said Alan Withers, 64, after a scathing email sent to his daughter from her future stepmother-in-law, Carolyn Bourne, went viral.
Mrs Bourne's email became known to the world after Heidi Withers, a 29- year-old PA in London, sent it to a handful of friends, who passed it on to others, who did the same in their turn, until it ended up being discussed on breakfast television and featured everywhere from Time Magazine in the US to several Indian newspapers.
"It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you," Mrs Bourne wrote to Ms Withers in a litany of criticisms.
"I met Carolyn and her husband Edward for dinner at a pub in London last year," Mr Withers responded, speaking at his home near Ledbury in Hertfordshire. "Edward was a jovial chap but Carolyn was quite snotty. She had a look about her which made us think she thought she was better than us. Ever since that meeting we call her 'Miss Fancy Pants'."
Such was the depth and breadth of Mrs Bourne's attack on the Withers family, it must have been difficult for Mr Withers to know where to begin taking issue with it. But his riposte was reassuring comprehensive.
Among Mrs Bourne's most choice barbs was her dismissal of the Withers' inability to contribute much towards the cost of the wedding ("convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters' marriages").
Mr Withers disclosed that he and his wife, Sylvia, had been unable to pay for most of the cost of the wedding after they were both made redundant in January by the company that owned the nursing agency they ran together.
"We are not destitute, but at the time money was hard to come by," he said. "I don't think she realised what the background was to us not being able to contribute a great deal. I don't care if she apologises. You can't take back what has been said once it's said."
He also said his daughter had been particularly upset by the timing of the email, which Mrs Bourne sent three times in one day, shortly after Ms Withers and her fiancé had bought their first home. "She was so excited with the wedding coming up and moving into their new home, it knocked the stuffing out of her a bit," he said.
Mrs Bourne, who runs Whetman Pinks, a championship-winning flower breeder, has refused to say any more on the matter. Her husband Edward, 63, Freddie's father, said: "We will not be making any comment. We are aware of what is being said. I know it is very boring, very repetitive and very dull, but we will not be making any comment and neither will my wife."
Freddie Bourne, a philosophy graduate from St Andrew's, met his future wife after moving to London, where he set up his own company selling Dutch bicycles online.
That the happy families will be getting together before the forthcoming nuptials now seems more than a little unlikely. Bring on the speeches.
Famous mother-in-law jokes
* "I haven't spoken to my mother-in-law for 18 months. I don't like to interrupt her." Ken Dodd
* "We got a new car for the mother-in-law. That government scrappage scheme is great." Marc Whiteleyn
* "My wife said, 'Can my mother come down for the weekend?' I said, 'Why?' She said, 'Well, she's been up on the roof for two weeks already.'"
* Bob Monkhousen "I took my mother-in-law to Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors. One of the attendants said, 'Keep her moving, sir. We're stocktaking.'" Les Dawson