Saturday morning is always chaotic at Scotty’s house, and this week with Dawn off shopping with her mother it is even more so, as Scotty is left in charge of the children.
The sun is shining hot and the children are playing in and out of the house, chasing each other with water pistols which they keep re-filling from the garden pond. After an hour or so of ignoring the mayhem, Scotty decides he should get up from his bed and put in an appearance. He is just walking down to the kitchen when he hears shrieking from the two youngest children. ‘It’s Uncle Frank,’ they cry, rushing to escort him indoors. ‘What have you got for us Uncle Frank?’ As always, Frank has arrived loaded with supplies. He turns out his pockets and drops the contents on the kitchen table. The children have all gathered to grab their share and dash outside, pockets bulging with sweets and chocolate bars.
‘Dawn will go mad if she finds out they’ve been stuffing their faces with sweets,’ warns Scotty. Frank laughs it off, ‘what she don’t know won’t hurt her. You worry too much old boy, life’s too short. Anyway I thought we were going to try out that dry cleaning machine today.’
Scotty is trying to make a pot of tea but can’t find any sugar. They must have run out, as they do with most things by the end of the week. ‘Never mind,’ says Frank, reaching into a carrier bag he has been hanging on to, ‘have one of these,’ and he takes out a pack of beer. They open one each and take a seat at the table. ‘We’ll have to wait until Dawn gets back,’ says Scotty, ‘I daren’t leave the kids on their own; there’s no telling what they’ll get up to.’
Just then they hear the chimes of the Mr Whippy’s van coming down the road and the kids stream in, begging for ice cream. ‘Alright, calm down,’ laughs Frank, ‘tell the man Uncle Frank says you can have whatever you want and he will pay.’ With that they go rushing out and elbow their way to the front of the queue. ‘You spoil them,’ grins Scotty, ‘they get too much these days.’ Frank drains his can of beer and opens another. ‘Well I don’t have any of my own to spoil. What’s a few ice creams gonna cost anyway?’
Scotty finishes his beer as Frank is emptying his third. The oldest comes in struggling to keep the top-heavy ice cream cone from collapsing. ‘The man says that will be four pound sixty,’ she says, holding out her hand for the money. Frank is astonished; ‘how much? ‘ He levers himself off the chair and strides out to remonstrate with the ice cream seller. ‘What’s your game? That can’t be right. Six ice creams can’t come to that much.’ The man points to the melee of children gathered round happily tucking in to their unexpected treats. ‘Twenty seven ice creams and it’s still four pound sixty.’ Frank looks round at the grinning assembly, realising they have copied Scotty’s kids and all said that Uncle Frank will pay. He coughs up the cash, smiling as he thinks how young they start these days. It’s just the sort of trick he would have pulled at their age.
By the time Dawn returns from her shopping trip it is getting on for one o’clock. Rather than help with the shopping, Frank suggests that he and Scotty go to the chip shop to buy lunch for everyone. Dawn happily agrees, glad for one to get them out from under her feet and for another for the fact she won’t have to cook dinner.
The pals return half an hour later to find the family assembled at the table, eagerly awaiting their return. Despite all they have eaten this morning they all have room for fish and chips and hungrily devour their meals straight from the paper wrappings.
The last of the beer washes down Frank’s saveloy and chips and he looks at his watch. ‘Time we were going,’ he says, nodding to the laundry bag which is stuffed with Scotty’s boiler suits. ‘We’ll be back in time for tea,’ he adds, cheekily.
The launderette is empty when they arrive, most of the customers having done their laundry in the morning. The two men load their filthy working clothes into the machine, feed the money in and press the switch to start the cleaning process. They watch for a few minutes as the clothes roll round in the drum, their metal buttons clanking against the glass door, then they take a seat and open their newspapers. Another carrier bag is produced and they sit in amiable quiet drinking beer and reading the news. ‘I don’t know why women make so much fuss about doing the laundry,’ murmurs Scotty, ‘it couldn’t be easier.’