evenings in the navarone household were terrible sqwuaking and droning affairs. my father, worried we would turn into violent boys and fearing the corrupting rays of the goggle box, cut the plug from the television and would turn on the old valve radio. this radio would blare throughout the day. my favourite show was 'the finch', a birdlike crimefighter who reeled against corrupt union officials and black marketeers. its intro was ominous violin music with sporadic tweets of 'finch!'
i was raised on gravy which accounts for the insolid nature of my early backbone and was therefore cursed with a couch seat next to my leaking grandmother. my grandmother, quite insane, only ever uttered three words.
over and over. she would inflect the last word making it sound more of a query or request. we would fill the room with freshly cut flowers. we would make soups from freshly cut flowers. fill pies with freshly cut flowers. hit her about the face with freshly cut flowers. anything to try and get her to shut the hell up or say something else.
we even unearthed her childhood sledge in the hope that she had named it f.c.f. we dug up long dead pets and shook them in her face. we made her an impractical daisy dress. gave her a bath in flowers. but she continued till death like a broken record until moments before departing she coughed, tied the bedraggled grey hair back high behind her head and said,
"if i sit by the river long enough, hands folded quietly in contemplation,
the bodies of my dead enemies will eventually come floating past."
she then gave us each a ghostly snarl in turn, before slowly deflating like an evil punctured bouncy castle.
my grandfather, also quite mad, denied the need for bought footwear and would construct shoes from empty ice-cream tubs. he would plod about the living room in these boxy plastic tubs. he would take me to the swing park and tunk, tunk, tunk, tunk his way home. my afternoons were spent shepherding him around in order to avoid kids in my school, throwing him into hedges or pushing him behind walls. i was ashamed and if it was up to me he would have been tied up , put inside a whicker man and burnt to a crisp. he was in no other way an eccentric, and in fact he was a very good man. but i would have done him in anyway solely based on the ice-cream tubs.
sometimes all it takes is one thing like this to obliterate someone. one thing to condemn a decent man. if you do not know this yet in life then you will one day.