CH TWO 26
‘Robbie will you hurry up, you’ll be late for school again.’ Mavis is trying to help out to give her daughter a lie in but is finding it hard going. Everybody else has had their breakfast and is ready to leave but Robbie is taking his time tying his shoe laces. ‘I hate Tuesdays,’ he grumbles, ‘we always have Irish stew followed by sago pudding and nobody likes sago pudding. Why do they make the stuff when nobody wants to eat it? It all gets put in the pig swill so why don’t they give us something we like instead?’ Mavis says she can’t help what’s on the school dinner menu and he will have to like it or lump it.
She closes the back door with a sigh of relief as the children eventually set off on their walk to the two schools. John has been seconded to ensure that his youngest brother gets to the gates on time and is propelling him along at some speed as he wants to leave enough time to have a crafty cigarette behind the bike sheds before the bell goes at his own school.
The two women sit at the kitchen table, sharing a fresh pot of tea and smoking ‘Consulate’ menthol cigarettes, which Dawn assures her mother are ‘good for clearing the tubes’ although she seems to be coughing more of late. They each take two slices of toast laden with marmalade for their breakfast and Dawn turns on the radio for the morning news.
‘Two men have been detained by Maidstone Police in connection with the importation of cannabis resin,’ the announcer is reading, ‘they have not yet been named but are expected to be held for questioning. A third man has been interviewed and released on bail pending further inquiries. Weather news now and spring is on its way with sunshine expected for most of today and temperatures reaching into the sixties in many places.’
A shudder goes through Dawn and she hopes that her husband is not involved in this drugs business. He admitted having ‘unwittingly’ carried something illegal in his last load from Holland but promised never to have anything further to do with the men who organized the trip. It’s hard enough making ends meet when he is in full time work, it would be impossible if he were to go inside again.
Since the Council workmen have downed tools next door due to ghostly happenings, Scotty has been able to sleep in peace during the day. He is dreaming of something very pleasant when he is brought back to reality by his youngest, home from school and wearing his Arsenal jumper which Mavis knitted for him. ‘Come on dad,’ urges the boy, ‘you said you’d have a kick-about with us.’ Scotty tries to focus on the alarm clock, which has stopped at half past two. ‘What time is it?’ he grumbles as he rubs his eyes awake. ‘Four o’clock and mum says you got home at ten so you must have had enough kip and anyway you’ll be gone again by seven.’
John has homework but Jamie and Stu are all set to go. The ball has been inflated using a bicycle pump and although the orange paint has all but worn off it is still recognisable as a football. Jamie has drawn the short straw is put in goal, and does his best to keep out the barrage of shots from the other three players.
Scotty makes some passes between Stu and Robbie before sending the ball into the back of the net, well the lines painted on the shed wall anyway. They take turns in goal, with Scotty made to play with his hands in his pockets to even things up a bit.
As the ball slowly deflates it is harder to propel on any sensible course. Robbie tries to head it to keep it out of his goal but the ball goes awry and ends up in the pond. As he goes to retrieve it he recoils, ‘Yuk, look at this: someone has emptied a bowl of sago pudding in the pond; that’s disgusting.’ The others gather to investigate and Stu laughs at his younger brother. ‘That’s frog spawn, you dope, haven’t you ever seen frog spawn before?’
They fish some out for closer inspection and Scotty explains that the black spot inside the gelatinous blob will one day grow to be a frog or a toad. He tells Robbie to keep looking as the eggs progress into tadpoles then develop legs and finally lose their tails and become frogs. They return the sloppy mess to the pond and resume their game, after inflating the ball for the third time.
Dawn reminds them of the time and calls Scotty in for his dinner. The others stay outside for a few minutes before following him indoors. ‘Dad,’ starts Robbie, in his wheedling tone, ‘if Arsenal get in to the final this season, will you take us to Wembley?’
Scotty almost chokes on his steak and kidney pie, Dawn’s eyes bulge. ‘We can’t afford tickets to Wembley,’ says Dawn, ‘even if we could get hold of any it would cost a fortune. You’ll just have to watch it on television like everyone else.’ The boys drift off to the front room, disappointed even though the response is what they expected to hear. ‘Watch it on television,’ grumbles Stu to the others, ‘in black and white on a fourteen inch screen. I’m going to go round to Charlie’s and watch it in colour; his dad’s getting a nineteen inch telly from Radio Rentals.’ The others ask if they can join him and he says he will ask Charlie but it will probably cost them as Charlie never does anyone favours. They will have to save their pocket money just in case.