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Monday, 9 December 2013

Slice of toast, yo! Is that too much to ask?

I am typing this at ten minutes to five in the morning, having been up all night in order to get my sleep pattern back in order, on account of having slept through, well, Sunday. This happens a lot, and has done for many years; no matter how many plans I make and how many alarms I set, my subconscious has apparently decided that nine times out of ten, I am going to sleep through the seventh day.

What are you gonna do, eh?

Anyway, to business!

I've mentioned a couple of times I think, though I can't swear to it, because my memory is shot; a gentleman by the name of Bob. My cousin Ian would stay with old Bob regularly, on account of he was an old friend of the family, and when he did he would hang out with us. Much of that hanging out took place at Bob's house.

Now, Bob was a wee bit... crotchety. He was a heavy smoker, liked a drink, and spent most of his time in a pub, or a betting shop, or in his favourite chair watching the racing to see how much money he'd lost this week. He was, essentially, the living embodiment of the Northern Grandad cliche. All he needed was an allotment.

His many trips to the betting shop and the pub meant that Ian, and by extension myself and my siblings, had free, unsupervised run of his house on more than one occasion; something we never failed to take advantage of. Now don't get me wrong; we didn't run amok and set fire to his curtains and smash holes in his walls to spy on the ladies who worked in the shop behind. No no, we would never do that. What we did, as many an unsupervised child is wont to do, is make a hell of a mess and eat his cupboards bare. Until one day, he said we couldn't.

Now, such an edict would not be a big deal you might think. You might think that, but you'd be wrong. You see, when I arrived at the house Bob was nowhere to be seen, having already made his pilgrimage to whichever den of iniquity he would be patronising that day, and it was just me and Ian. So naturally, I made for the food cupboard. Until Ian stopped me. What The Deuce! He was under strict instructions not to allow me to eat anything. I took this as a personal insult and said that if I wasn't allowed any food then I was going home. Where eating between meals was a shooting offense (and meals themselves weren't always forthcoming), so yeah, I'm not sure what I was thinking there.

Of course, as all tiffs do when you're a wee nipper, this one burned out and was forgotten within a few hours. By everyone except Bob. Bob had come home and found Ian there alone. Naturally curious as to why Ian wasn't hanging out with me, he got the story from Ian who, not having developed my finely honed, and slightly ridiculous, insistence on lying through my teeth to every adult query regardless of whether I actually stood to gain anything by doing so, told him the truth.

Cut to me arriving at Bobs later that day intending to pick right back up where I'd left off with Ian that morning. I didn't even get to the door, because Ian came rushing out as soon as I got through the gate and tried to shuffle me straight back out again. It was a valiant effort, but he wasn't quick enough and lo, who should arrive on the scene, looming in the doorway like some kind of crotchety old man Colossus but Bob himself. Dude was ready to cut a bitch; Ian slinked off back into the house; I was completely oblivious and had no idea what was coming/

Long story short (shut up) I got the earful of a lifetime about respect, about the value of money, about abusing the privilege of being a guest in someone's home... all sorts of things that, really, my own parents would have taught me if they weren't utterly incompetent in the field of child rearing.

Of course, I didn't see it like that at the time; I just thought he'd gone off the deep end and sort of sullenly submitted to the dressing down before spending the rest of the day making senility jokes.

Because I was a knobhead.