And so the useless days grind by, a living death on the sofa. Well, I say that, but I have been able to binge watch The Crown on Netflix, so that’s something. I’ve mainly done this with Nid, whose nursery has temporarily closed, and he enjoys it although, as a monarchist, I insist we stand up whenever the Queen comes on, which he finds tiring after a while. I’ve also used our unexpected time together to introduce the phrase ‘Get off me, you bender’ to his vernacular, so that should be a talking point at the next parents’ evening. In addition, I make up stories for him, although unlike pretty much every other parent who does this I don’t now consider myself a budding children’s author as a result. No, The Phantom Flying Bum of Old London Town is unlikely to get beyond our Norfolk cottage, where we chart sightings of this portent of non-specific doom in an old A-Z from the cupboard under the telly. Between that, his frequent renditions of Old McFarmer Had A Dog and maintaining Government advice to count to twenty while washing his hands, which I’ve trained him to do in under five seconds, we wander through the days.
As if this were not excitement enough, sports fans will be pleased to note that I have also commenced his boxing training with a simple jab-jab-cross combination. I boxed – well, let’s not get carried away, I trained and sparred with the people who actually did the boxing – till I was 22, and it was great. The development has been met with particular approval from ‘Anton’ who, for many of our market trading years, was obsessed with how he might defend himself when societal breakdown engulfs the streets of Maidstone, where he lived before moving to Leeds, where it has already happened. I would usually point out that under those circumstances you would just carry a gun, although getting insurance for it might be difficult. ‘That was a surprise for you, wasn’t it Daddy?’, Nid correctly concluded one afternoon, shortly after belting me in the face unannounced as the Queen stopped Princess Margaret marrying RAF Group Captain Peter Townshend, later of the Who. Princess Margaret, always referred to as ‘that poor cow, Princess Margaret’ by my old dear, instead went on to marry Lord Snowdon, who was a dick. Checking for nosebleeds, I explained the importance of not getting thrown out of nursery for punching people and having to stay home till proper school
starts, thereby causing Daddy to lose his fucking mind. Still, it was a good solid punch, and he seemed chuffed with it. You reap what you sow, I suppose.
As is by now apparent, it is in everyone’s interest that I find regular employment soon. There is little of this in Norfolk, unless you want to be an agricultural labourer in what Nid refers to as the sugarbeef fields or work up the Council. I’d prefer the latter obviously, because at least you’re indoors, although neither particularly appeals. Ho hum. As ever, it is Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for everyone else, to paraphrase Martin Luther King. With this in mind, and with the countdown to dashing through the snow in one whore’s open sleigh now upon us, the annual conversation in which I fail to persuade Joe to start a Christmas decorating business with me has taken place. In these troubled times, I’m sure the public would be delighted and entranced by two blokey and clearly enthusiastically heterosexual men pretending to be gay in order to appear less threatening traipsing around the front room with tinsel and what not, with some of Joe’s kids in tow dressed up as elves. In fact, this conversation is such a traditional part of the calendar that I’m reasonably sure I have mentioned it here before. Anyway. Putting up Christmas decorations for lazy people could work, once the main obstacles of us not wanting to do it, and the other main obstacle of no one else wanting us to do it either, were overcome, but I suspect the idea will once again be shelved.
Other recent brainstorms included literally becoming saints. This, too, is not without a few rocks on the runway – for example, not being Catholic and therefore not believing in saints is a bit of a stumbling block. Also, according to Joe’s degree in Comparative Theology, enjoying a moment of usefulness for the first time since the late 1990s, we would also need to perform two verifiable miracles to qualify. While I have done some pretty remarkable things in my time – for example, I ate three boxes of chocolate fingers last week when feeling poorly, which Nid put down to having a dog in my tummy and sad arms, there has been little in the way of the verifiably miraculous. In light of my chocolate finger achievement, Joe suggested I do a reverse Feeding of the Five Thousand, whereby a load of people turn up by the Sea of Galilee with lots of food, and I eat it all. Obviously, travel restrictions bought about by Coronavirus would prevent that happening, so unless being Norfolk-based Cockney urchins becomes recognised by the Vatican as a path to sainthood, which I am reluctantly forced to admit is unlikely, stained glass windows may forever be unadorned by our image. On the other hand, as a saint, your work only tends to be recognised several hundred years after an arduous life and horrible death, which is bugger all use to us. All in all, being a saint seems a bit of a carry on, especially if you have to fit it around your kids, which we would have to, and I can see why most of them were single.
Main – Fat horse in a field.
Top inset: Joe’s van, which will have to get a bit more festive before we can run a Christmas decorating business out of it.
Middle inset: Lucky prosperity-bringing Chinese cat in our kitchen. Must see if we still have the receipt for it.
Lower inset: Euston Station and surrounding areas, where the Phantom Flying Bum of Old London Town was spotted boarding the Northern Line southbound to Colliers Wood.