I went to meet my dad in town. As soon as he saw me he said “Do you need a pee before we set off?” in front of all his old mates. “No dad, I am fully toilet trained thanks” I hissed.
When we got on the bus, I sat beside him in the old people’s seats. Then an old lady got on and I moved to let her have my seat “I don’t want to sit beside her” dad shouts loud enough for everyone to hear. “Shut up” I snap at him.
He lets the old woman sit beside him and after a while she finally gets off. Dad indicates that I have to rejoin him on the front seats. I glumly slope over like a big useless teenager.
“Do you want anything from the Asda?” I ask him as he stares out of the window.
“No!” he yells too loudly. “I have loads of food Janey” he shouts. I shut up and sit quietly.
“A small loaf, brown, half a dozen eggs, a tin of spam and a Daily Mail” he then shouts at me. I take note and try not to shout into his face “You are a crazy old bastard” Instead I comment on how comfy looking his wide fitting beige shoes are. Just then a wee old man got on the bus with a lively Scottie dog; it was all white and really friendly looking.
People on the bus made cooing noises and the old man was revelling in the glory of his happy wee cute dog. “Aye, he is really friendly and likes being patted” the old man says as elderly women moved over to him to pat the dog.
“He is just using his dog to get all the attention” dad grumbles and then adds loudly “Dogs should only be allowed on the bus if they help the blind or mentally handicapped”
I looked at dad and said “I am getting you a fucking dog, do you want attention?”
“I don’t want a dog, and you stop swearing and I don’t like attention” he snapped back.
“Then stop being strange and be nice to the wee dog, its offering you a paw” I whispered.
My dad looked at the cutest wee dog in the world with its paw up at him and he leaned down to it and said “meow” in a real cat style. The dog went mental and started barking. “That dog needs trained” dad shouted and was happy he made the dog think he was a cat. My dad is rather cantankerous today.
As the bus trundled along the Glasgow streets dad decided to have one of his favourite conversations. It always starts and ends the same.
Dad-“Do you recall big Betty Smart; she used to live above the bookies and was famous for killing cats? You went to school with her daughter Katie”
Me- “no I don’t remember her, was the daughter a cat killer?”
Dad- “yes, you do remember her, (at this point he prods a finger at me) remember Alex Cummings who used to do the football coupons? Well, you know his brother Archie with the one leg?
Me-“no I don’t remember any of that, dad who are these people?”
Dad- “yes, remember we all thought he was queer and it turned out he just like model aeroplanes? Anyway they had a sister Bella who used to sell shoes down the Barras, now her man Tommy Gunn…”
Me-“You knew someone called Tommy Gunn, was this during the war? Did he fire blanks?” (Dad ignored this sperm related joke)
Dad- “listen his name was Tommy Gunn get over that he was the husband of Bella who sold shoes now he ran away to Dunoon with a lassie called Fran she used to wear a beret to the side of her head and we thought that made her a lesbian but she wasn’t, she just liked hats at a jaunty angle…anyway Tommy came back to Glasgow and he went blind and then he had a care worker called Sally who never washed his windows because he couldn’t see them- anyway that Sally is now working at the meat counter in Asda so if you see her don’t buy anything off her she is filthy, that was my point”
Me- “you told me that big story just to get to Sally who works at the meat counter?”
Dad- “well aye, I did”
I stared at my dad and wondered why on earth he thought I could recall all of those bizarre connections between people who were my neighbours when I was a kid 40 years ago.
I had to go buy spam and The Daily Mail and that is something I have never done in my life. I have never bought Spam and I don’t buy the Daily Mail.
The upside of the day was when we went back to dad’s house. Last week he said he saw a mouse in the kitchen and demanded I call the environmental people out to kill the mice. I waited for the mouse killer man to come and just as the time drew close for the mouse killer man to arrive dad disappeared upstairs for a nap and left me to deal with the mouse killy man.
The mouse man was clearly gay. I was glad dad was upstairs napping; he gets odd around openly camp men. It’s not that dad is a homophobe he is just really old and doesn’t know how to cope.
“Why do the mice gather behind the display cabinet?” I asked the mouse man.
“Oh, they like to groom themselves behind cupboards” he said with a lovely lisp.
“So they just huddle behind my dad’s collection of ships in a bottle and wash their wee faces and comb their wee tufty hair?” I laughed.
The mouse man made a face-licking motion and wiggled his hips as he pretended to comb his hair “yes, they like to be near knick knacks as they groom” he giggled. I laughed again and was glad that dad didn’t see the mouse killing man do a hip wiggle; it would frighten my dad somehow to know that the man who is setting out poison is also good at mouse mime.
Finally I made it home in time to see Gordon Brown get his balls toasted at a press conference where he was trying to convince the country that there is no divisiveness in the Labour Party!_