Mack’s Craic

05Feb12

"They're for me Dad"

Figures of authority don’t tend to believe me when I’m telling the truth. This week’s cold weather has reminded me of the first time that happened. More on that later in the Craic.

There’s snow and ice everywhere as I type. Even though this happens every year in Britain, we still can’t cope with it. We got less that six inches of snow but tube trains broke down, motorways ground to a halt and Heathrow cancelled hundreds of flights. It looks like Britain is only just coping on a good day, when it turns a bit icy we’ve had it.

I know that schools will be closed but I’m not sure why. Is it the heating again? I don’t know of anywhere else where the heating packs up as much as in schools. What kind of dodgy heating system is it that stops working every time there’s a cold snap? And is that any reason to send the kids home? I know I’m going to sound like an old git now but I remember when the heating packed up at our school, they didn’t send us home; they just made us wear our coats indoors. And I’m not talking about high school here. The first time it snowed and I had to go to school, I was five. I can still remember seeing the footprints in the snow that lead across the playground from the school building to the OUTSIDE toilet block. Actually high school was worse. At the age of eleven, first thing on a Friday morning was “Games”. I don’t know why it was called “Games”; we only ever played one game, football. It didn’t matter what the weather was doing, we were lead out onto a frozen pitch wearing only a football shirt and 1970s short shorts. “Run around if you want to get warm” was what the sadistic games teacher would shout. I can remember being so cold for the rest of the day that I could hardly hold a pen to write with.

OK, I am starting to sound like an old git. My Dad is an old git and he’s very good at it because he’s had lots of practice. He didn’t like the cold weather. One of his favorite expression is “Best place for snow is on Christmas cards!”

The icy weather took revenge on him one year. He was walking home from the pub, slipped on the ice and broke his right arm. He had to have time off work but the timing was pretty good. I was about ten years old, mum was working, it was school holidays and my six year old sister had measles. He stayed at home with us.

That combination of random events led to the first time in my life that I remember a figure of authority not believing me. My Dad used to send me up to the local newsagents to buy his cigarettes. At first it wasn’t a problem, I’d ask for “twenty Senior Service”, give the money to the grumpy lady at Thornleighs newsagents and she’d give me the cigarettes. As I got older though, it had become more difficult. It was probably because I was approaching the age when kids around our way started to smoke. Instead of just giving me the cigarettes after I’d asked for them, there was now a pause and a sideways look from her, then I’d say, “They’re for me dad!”, then she’d wrap the cigarettes in white tissue paper before giving them to me. Then one day she said, “Next time you’ll have to bring a note from your dad”. From then on I had to hand her a note that my dad had written before she gave me the tissue paper wrapped Senior Service. Writing the note had become more trouble than it was worth and my dad often just walked up to Thornleighs and got them himself.

So it’s a school holiday, my sister’s sick, dad is off work and he runs out of cigarettes. He sends me to the shop and there’s grumpy Mrs Thornleigh. “Twenty Senior Service please”, I said handing her the money. She gave me the sideways look; I said “They’re for me dad”. She looked me in the eye and said, “Why can’t he come and get them himself?” I said, “Because he’s at home looking after my sister, she’s got measles.” “Why hasn’t he written you a note?”, “Because he’s broken his arm”. She handed back the money and said “Get out!”

Another Craic in the ice soon.

Check out the Mack Nuggets at http://www.mackmedia.co.uk .

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