Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Part Four

At 11.30 The Grump left for his expensive grooming session. I was glad to see the back of him to be honest. He’s almost worn a path into the carpet between the sofa and the wall mirror.  He even sought me out in the garden to ask if I thought a bit of stubble would look ‘cool.’ I said he’d better not get too close to me if he does grow a beard. For some reason Gary’s facial hair brings me out in a rash no matter which part of me it touches. I vividly remember the time I went to the doctors thinking I’d got thrush. It turned out to be an allergy to Gary’s whiskers.
Lara left soon after Gary, so when I’d finished sorting out the laundry I turned my thoughts toward the electrical supermarket at the retail park. What is it with dirty laundry? It seems to breed. I’m sure I don’t get through that many pairs of knickers in a week. I reckon Gary must be making a bit of extra cash by taking in washing from the neighbours. Having said that, Lara wears three sets of clothes a day whether she’s going anywhere or not. The Grump is the exact opposite. He’d wear the same t-shirt all week if I didn’t pick them up from the bedroom floor every morning.

I got changed into my serious shopping clothes and called Toby down from his room.

‘Toby, come on, love. We don’t want the shop to sell out of vacuum cleaners before we get there, do we?’
Toby appeared at the top of the stairs wearing his best sad face. ‘Do I have to go, mum? I’ve just got Muscles Malone pinned to the canvas in a Mexican Death Grip.’

‘I’ll get you in a Mexican death grip if you don’t hurry up.’

‘But I’ve never beaten him before. I’ll qualify for the Rumble in the Rockies tournament if I win this.’

‘It’s just a game, Toby. Can’t you pause it?’
‘It is paused.’
‘Well then, Muscles Malone can’t escape can he?. The worst that can happen is that he’ll suffocate while we’re out and you’ll still win. Now get a move on. You haven’t even got changed yet.’

‘Can’t I go like this?’

I looked at him in his scruffy Dennis the Menace tee shirt and cargo shorts.’

‘No, you can’t. I don’t know, Toby, you get more like your father every day.’

Toby struck a pose and stroked his chin. ‘Do you think I should go stubbly?’

‘Get changed,’ I laughed. The impression was far too good.

By the time he was changed and downstairs it was gone twelve. As I smoothed down his hair in the hallway he did another Gary impression, but this time it wasn’t meant as a joke.
‘Take that look off your face young man. It isn’t often I ask you to come into town with me.’

‘Vacuums are boring,’ he grumped.

‘This one isn’t. It’s a Dyson Animal.’ I growled at him for effect.

Toby brightened a little. ‘Has it got teeth and claws and ...’
‘No, but it doesn’t have bags that need changing and it will get the pet hair off the couch.’

Toby wasn’t impressed. ‘ Darren’s mum has a vacuum with a smiley face on it.’

Toby looked puzzled. ‘No, silly, Darren’s mum. Who’s Henry?’

He trudged to the car and climbed into the front passenger seat. I locked up and jumped in next to him.
‘Tell you what, how about we go to the burger bar while were there?’

Toby’s mood changed immediately. Even vacuum shopping was worth doing if it was rewarded with a burger.

‘Double cheeseburger and large fries, with a fizzy drink. MMMM.’ Toby was salivating already.
‘You’ll burst one of these days.’ I laughed. Seriously, I don’t know where he puts it all. There isn’t an ounce of fat on him but he eats enough for three.

At the electrical store we found the machine I wanted  was on display. A salesman called Mark, checked on a computer and ordered one from the warehouse at the back. He walked us to the tills and we chatted while we waited for my purchase to arrive. Mark insisted on carrying my new Dyson to the car. He was about thirty with a rugged face and a backside to drool over. As he bent over to load the package into the boot of my car, I did just that.

He slammed the boot shut and flashed me a smile. I flashed one straight back.
‘If you want to give it a test drive you can come round to my place any time you like. It would be a good challenge for it.’

‘Don’t tempt me,’ I laughed. ‘I go wild at the smell of Mr Sheen.’

I climbed into the car and closed the door. Mark made a circling motion with his hand and couched down. I opened the window.

I looked him straight in those bright blue eyes and felt myself beginning to melt. He smiled and cleared his throat. I swear he was going to ask me out and I swear I would have said yes if he had.

Toby came to my rescue.
‘Mum the burger bar will be closed.’

The moment had gone. Mark flashed Toby a look, then switched back to his salesman’s smile. ‘Off you go, can’t keep a kid from his burger.’ He stood up and banged on the roof of my car.

‘Thanks for the help, Mark.’ I gave him my best smile. He winked and dropped down to window level again.

'The offer still stands.’ Mark grinned and handed me a business card. I dropped it into my bag and waved goodbye.
I thought about that bottom as we drove across the retail park and felt my cheeks flush. What a day this was. A handsome young man had flirted with me. Apart from Reg the postie, who was neither young, nor handsome, that hadn’t happened in years.

The burger bar was packed and we had trouble finding seats. A waitress eventually found two opposite a pair of middle aged women who made a big fuss about having to remove their bags from the table so we could put our purchases down. Toby got stuck into his double whammy burger as soon as his backside hit the seat.

One of woman looked down her nose at us and picked at her gammon and chips with her fork. I smiled politely and put my bag on my lap.
The older of the two pulled out a compact mirror and began to dab at her face with a dusty pad. The slightly younger, spiteful looking one, continued to look at Toby with distaste.
Toby, blissfully ignorant of her stare, demolished his burger in record time and started on his juice. I took a big sip of coffee.

‘Mum, will you give me a blowjob?’ he asked.

I spat coffee. The women opposite copped for most of it.

The older one’s mouth sagged open. What did he say? she gasped.
The younger one dabbed at her jacket with a paper towel and looked as though she were about to explode. ‘You disgusting little brat,’ she fumed.

Toby looked her squarely in the face. ‘I only asked for a blowjob.’
‘Toby,’ I begged, ‘shut up about blowjobs.’

‘What a thing to ask,’ the old woman stormed. 

‘He shouldn’t know what a blowjob is at his age,’ hissed the other.
I grabbed hold of Toby’s arm and pulled him to his feet. The occupants of the table next to us were getting involved.
‘Did he just ask for a blowjob?’ boomed an elderly man with a military moustache.

I wished the ground would swallow us up. I grabbed my bag and began to edge away from the table.
Toby hadn’t finished.

‘I only asked for a blowjob.’

‘Toby!’ I hissed. ‘No more blowjobs.’

The word, ‘blowjob,’ floated around the room on the back of a hundred whispers.

‘I’ve a good mind to call the social services,’ said the military man’s wife. ‘Blowjobs, at his age.’

I pulled on Toby’s arm and tried to back out, but the waitress’s trolley blocked my exit.
‘Tommy Tosspot wanted Lara to give him one, but she said no,’ Toby told the world.

‘Toby ...please.’
‘Who’s Lara?’ asked the old trout.

‘My sister, she’s fourteen and...’

Fourte...and she’s giving ... Charles come on we need to report this.’ The ex-soldier’s wife looked at me with narrowed eyes. ‘What sort of mother are you?’

I turned, pushed the trolley, and waitress, out of the way and hurried from the burger bar with as much dignity as I could muster.
We were back in the car in less than a minute. I looked up to see the old woman had followed us out and was waving towards a policeman across the car park. I pulled onto the main road and hit the accelerator.  A mile or so down the road I drove into a side street and turned to face my son. He seemed unperturbed by the scene he had caused.
I tried to remain calm, shouting at him wouldn’t achieve anything.

‘Toby, I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life. Where the heck did you get that word from?’

‘Lara, she was in her room talking to Tommy Tosspot on the phone.’

‘You shouldn’t listen to other people’s conversations, Toby, it’s not nice. What Lara says to Tommy is personal and private,’ I hesitated. ‘What did she say?’

‘She told Tommy Tosspot that she wouldn’t sleep with him and she wouldn’t give him a blowjob, even if it was the best present he could ever have.’
I was stunned. ‘Is that everything?’

Toby thought for a moment. ‘She said if he loved her, he wouldn’t ask.’
‘Good for Lara.’ I said, more to myself than Toby.

‘What is a blowjob anyway, mum?’

‘Never mind.’
‘It’s not fair, everyone knows except me.’ He was silent for a moment. ‘I’ll ask Mrs Henshaw on Mon..’

‘You will not ask the teacher about bl... You will not talk to Mrs Henshaw about this Toby. It’s a private matter.’
‘Just tell me what is it then.’ Toby needed an answer.

I gave in. ‘It’s kissing.’

‘Kissing!  Yuk, everything that sounds interesting ends up meaning kissing. I’m never going to give anyone a blo...’

‘That’s enough about blowjobs. Come on let’s get home. Didn’t you say you wanted to go to Darren’s?’
The Grump got back from the football at six with his new spiky head and spent the next two hours wearing an even deeper track  between the sofa and the mirror. He got changed into a white t-shirt and jeans as soon as he got home. Lara hid a giggle behind the back of her hand before telling him how ‘amazing’ he looked. While I was clearing away the tea things he asked me what I thought.

‘It’s certainly different, Gary,’ I said. ‘I’m not sure it’s a forty year old man’s haircut though.’
The Grump became defensive. ‘You’re just stuck in the 90s, Isla. You ought to get with it, forty isn’t old anymore. If you want to look like a frump, that’s up to you but I’m not going to look old before i have to.’

'Frump? What do you mean FRUMP?’

Gary shrugged. ‘You have let yourself go a bit. You could do with a makeover.’
I was shocked and angry.

‘Gary, if I’ve let myself go, it’s because I have no reason to make myself look presentable. I spend my entire life cleaning up after you lot, there’s no point in having a makeover. Who would ever notice?’

Gary opened his mouth to reply but I cut him off , mid retort.
‘AND, do you know what a makeover would cost? Your new spiky hair would fall out if I asked for a few hundred quid to make myself look less ... FRUMPY!’

I felt tears welling up and I didn’t want Gary to see me cry so I walked smartly out of the kitchen and headed for the stairs. Gary followed me.

‘Isla, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean ...’
‘Yes you bloody well did,’ I spat. ‘Just piss off and leave me alone.’

I didn’t cry for long. A few minutes later Toby knocked on my bedroom door to see if I was all right and after one of his special cuddles, I was.
Gary tried to apologise before he went to the pub but I told him to forget it. Lara asked why he was apologising and The Grump explained that he had upset me by calling me a frump.

Lara looked me over, wrinkled up her nose and added her two-penn’oth.

‘You could do with losing a few pounds. You’ve got a bit of a paunch and your bum is looking a bit padded. Nothing a couple of sessions at the gym wouldn’t cure though.’

She walked round me like a farmer sizing up a new bull at the market.

‘If you got a bra that fits and bought some clothes that belong to this century, you wouldn’t look too bad for woman your age. You’d have to do something with your hair though. You’ve had the same style since I was born. Oh, and you’re getting a bit of  chin.’

Gary held out his hands as if to say, ‘Told you so.’ I gave him the look I reserve for when he comes home drunk and disorderly and told Lara that if she was that ashamed of me she’d be better off if I didn’t give her a lift to the youth club later on.
‘We don’t want your friends to think you’re living with your granny do we?’

‘Hey, don’t shoot the messenger,’ said Lara.
Later that evening I sat in front of Strictly Come Dancing and decided that things really did have to change. Life was passing me by at an incredible rate. I followed The Grump’s well worn path to the full length mirror and studied it intently. Okay, I wasn’t in the first flush of youth, but I wasn’t too bad. Nothing a bit of TLC couldn’t fix. Mark had seemed keen so I wasn’t exactly repulsive. I picked up the laptop and made a list in a text file, printed it off and carried it up to my bedside drawer.

Item one is joining a gym. I’ll start looking for a reasonably priced one on Monday. Next up is hair. I’ll have a word with Lucy, next door. She has a mobile hairdresser and she always looks fabulous, she’ll give me some tips on clothes too. The last thing on my list will have to wait until the rest had been achieved, but, ‘Start Having A Life,’ is typed in bold, eighteen point font and it's the most important item on the agenda. The world had better be ready for me when I reach that stage.
It was a strange sort of Saturday night. Everything seemed to be done by halves. I drank half a glass of wine while I watched half of a very bad movie before turning in. Gary came home from the pub half cut and half an hour early. I was half asleep in bed. He winked and I groaned when I realised what he had in mind. He undid his belt, let his trousers fall to the floor and climbed into bed half-dressed. He grabbed a random breast shoved his hand up my nightie, and rolled on top. I  wriggled about a bit to get comfortable but by the time I had it was all over. When it comes to sex, Gary fits his surname perfectly. He’s the original roll on roll off Ferry.


  1. I do hope you realise your last line made me snort coffee all over my laptop! Wonderfully brilliant episode, Trevor. I don't know what it is about this story that always raises a smile, perhaps because it sounds awfully close to my own life. Lookinf forward to more. :)

  2. Thanks Sam, really appreciate the comment. Hope the kb cleaned up :)

  3. What a brilliant writer you are Trevor, I loved this story, took me all the way back to my housewife with children days and the laughs we had back then. Look forward to reading more. :D

  4. Thanks for the kind comments and fortaking the time to comment, Marie. It's very much appreciated.

  5. Glad I'd finished the mouthful of tea before reading the last line, so funny! Onto the next episode!

  6. That scene in the Burger bar is to die for!
    Great final line too. Loving the humour that flows throughout.

  7. If I have a seizure trying not to laugh quite so loudly, it will be all your fault Trevor!