An open letter to my children – again.
My darlings I feel I must share this with you, if only so that you will avoid such marital confrontations in your life. Wisdom is hard won and must be shared.
You might not know but your old father is on a rather large dose of steroids right now. Not something I embark upon without consideration but not that unusual and its effects well known to all those about me. Ian and Reb endeavour to keep me out of the shop and your dear mother ‘makes allowances’.
This morning I emerged from the bedroom full of vim and a bit of ‘zipperdey-do-dar’ ready to enjoy the day, energized and jolly.
To celebrate the Sunday I chose my wardrobe with sartorial abandon. An old shirt under an old and so comfy jumper and those corduroys which your mother describes as ‘looking like an elephants bottom’ but which provide a degree of comfort not known in any other trouser. Yes they are older than any of your children, yes they are somewhat scarred by time and wear but they have a plentitude of ‘Victor Silvestor’ and a chap likes that as age marches on.
So feeling good and comfy our breakfast consumed we embark on a real treat for me, a visit to Waitrose where I’m allowed mine own trolly.
Now one of the side effects of steroids in the dose I’m taking is, as the medical members of our family will attest, ‘steroid narcosis’ this can also present itself as mild to middling paranoia!
I’m not against paranoia, a healthy habit especially in some of the jobs yer old dad has had in the past. But now, in the twilight years, not actually terribly useful.
So as we are leaving the house she looks me up and down and tells me she sees a rather nasty mark, stain, disfigurement on the front of my trouser not un-adjacent to the fly area. I rush back indoors and see nothing that alarms but dab the whole area with a wet kitchen cloth. This looks worse but even so I am chivvied out into the car to drive to the supermarket. ‘It will dry on the way’ she tells me ‘and besides I’m sure no one will notice’
NO ONE WILL FUCKING NOTICE! to a paranoid is not a good thing to say.
All the way there the damp embrace of old corduroy reminded me of my condition. And, my darlings, to ME it did notice, not just NOTICE but shout aloud THIS OLD MAN IS INCONTINENT, DON’T LET HIM NEAR YOU – HE PROBABLY SMELLS.
Crouched like some demented Quasimodo I clutched on to my trolly like a ship wrecked sailor to flotsam. Bent over as I was, jumper pulled down as far as it would go I surreptitiously looked around for some pointed finger or the disgusted snigger of one of the gray hoard of pensioners that make up Waitrose on a Sunday.
My treat was if not ruined at least compromised from the usual excitement these occasions elicit.
Yes OK I don’t get out much, but each to their own. A visit to a fully functional and well stacked booze department is my little jolly, plus of course the opportunity of bringing home some little culinary delights not usually included in your mothers daily shop. Sauerkraut, interesting pickles, exotic jams and of course various sorts of sausage that you all used to snigger at when young.
So to the gins and brandies. Your old mother, as you know, likes her brandy so I got as big a bottle as was on offer. I have become wedded to gin of late so was looking for a bargain in that direction. There in front of me was a full liter bottle of a 40% proof high quality gin. On offer, in the trolley it went.
Note, Isobel and I make our own way around the store, that way we don’t squabble and it avoids any questions we might make as to our respective choices. What I put in I pay for and visa-versa.
So to the check-out, still bent like a ruddy paperclip to conceal a now less obvious damp groin, but one I knew was evident to any who might peer in that direction.
OK, the chances of anyone in their right mind choosing to fixate on the corduroy crotch of a scruffy old man holding on to a shopping trolly, especially in that supermarket is not normal.
But bear in mind we live in an age of rampant and sometimes incredibly inventive perversions, many of which now appear on the internet via mobile devices, and I’m SODDING PARANOID.
And here, dear children, its where it all started to unravel. A really nice young man processed my purchases as I put them on the conveyor. Behind me an aged matron with a face like clenched arse covered pink talcum powder. Imagine a sort of Barbera Cartland with a hint of Bella Lugosi. We came to my bottle of gin, ‘what good value’ said I, ‘a real bargain’. The kind young man informed me it was full price at £37.00 not the £17.00 I was expecting. I said I thought this was on ‘offer’.
The conveyor stopped and after a short while over came a supervisor who heard my tale and politely went of to find out the truth of it. This is after all the supermarket with the very best of customer service in any known universe. But as we waited and the young man and I gently passed the time so I unwound, forgetting momentarily my sartorial embarrassment. Turning to the lady behind me I apologized to her and the queue that was now building up behind her.
Looking me not in the eye but down to the waist are she sniffed. Yes ‘sniffed’ peering at me through gimlet eyes with lashes like castrated spiders,
‘my late husband was more partial to gin than was good for him’ she snarled and turned away in disgust.
The supervisor returned with a much smaller bottle of the gin telling me that this was the one on offer.
I took it.
Paid – went back to the car, lit a pipe, waited for your mother and just wanted to go home.
One small comment, one over zealous application of wet cloth, one trip to the supermarket I shall not forget.
Yours as ever
yer old father, whose art in heaven – mostly.