Sunday, 15 August 2010

Left Outside The Gangmaster's Circle Of Trust.

Dinah phones first thing. I wake from a nightmare in which The Boss is trying to kiss me repeatedly, while whirling me round the office to the accompaniment of a crazed Russian band, all of whom look like Igor. Despite the horror of this scenario, my heart sinks when I pick up the phone, and Dinah says,

"Do you know where Dad is?"

"Um, no," I say. "I phoned him last night but got the answer-phone."

"God, that bloody thing," Dinah drags on what probably isn't her first cigarette of the day, and continues, "I wish he'd bloody well take Stepmother Mark III's name off the message, don't you? It's three years out of date, for Chrissake."

"Well, yes, but Dinah, you just woke me up. And anyway, she's only Stepmother Mark II to you. Can I make a cuppa and phone you back?" By this, I mean can I make three cups of tea, have a couple of cigarettes and brace myself to talk to you? - but Dinah's unstoppable once she starts.

"Shut up, Molly! Just listen, I'll only be a minute. Are you sure Dad hasn't gone somewhere?"

I have a slight sinking feeling, but I am trying to ignore it.

"Yes, well, - no, but where would he go?" Don't mention Thailand. Don't mention Thailand. "Why do you think he's gone somewhere?"

"Because one of my mates just phoned me and asked me why Dad's car has been parked outside the railway station  for the last few days."

"Christ," I say.

"D'you think he's dead?" says Dinah.

"Don't be daft. We'd have heard."

"We're always the last to know anything about that man," says Dinah. "Tell you what: you ask everyone on your mum's side of the family, and I'll ask on my mum's side, and then we'll try his neighbours if all else fails." Why would either of our mothers know anything? Neither of them has been married to him for ages. But then, what about what Mum said yesterday? Christ, and double Christ.

"Okay, speak to you later." Unless I can think of a really good excuse. What is Dad up to?

I make the tea, and sit mulling over what to do next. No point asking Mum, and idiot brother Robin won't know, seeing as Ted's his dad. I shall just do nothing. That's usually the only option where Dad's concerned.

The afternoon passes in a mad, exciting whirl of washing, ironing, moving piles of unanswered letters aimlessly from surface to another, and keeping Josh and Connie apart. I wonder at what age they'll finally grow out of tormenting each other? Well, actually, I wonder when Josh will grow out of tormenting Connie, and she'll grow out of saying that she wishes that he would just go and die?

Eventually, she gets fed up of him flicking through the TV channels and saying, "Con - look! Look, look, look!" every few minutes, while she is trying to read. She stamps off upstairs, taking her laptop with her, while yelling,

"Mum, tell that moron Josh that I don't give a flying f*ck about watching Dirty Sanchez, stupid Cribs, or Pimp My bloody Ride, and get him to leave - me - alone!"

Ten minutes later, she comes running back downstairs, slams her laptop onto my lap - sending the Sunday paper flying everywhere - and says, "Mum! Mum! Look! Look!"

"Pack it in, Connie," I say. "It isn't funny when Josh does that 'look, look' thing, as well you know."

"Just look," she says, pointing at the screen. "An email from Grandad."


"He's back in Thailand!" Connie's eyes look fit to pop out.

"He's what?" Oh, my God. "Why did he email you and not me?"

"Read it," Connie says. I do. I wish I hadn't.

Dear Connie
It's your Grandad here. I'm back in Thailand. I haven't told your mother as, when I told her about my last trip, she called me Gary Glitter, and I'm in no mood for sarcasm. I'll send you a postcard and see you when I get home. It's hot.
Love from Grandad. 

It's only been two weeks since he got back to the UK, for Godsake! I light a cigarette in preparation for the inevitable stress that imparting this latest piece of information to Dinah will cause - but then my phone rings. Dinah has beaten me to it.

"He's only gone back to bloody Thailand already," she shrieks. "Can you believe it? Mum told me. She said he'd asked her not to tell me as I wouldn't approve. Damn right I don't. Led by the dick - at his age!"

She pauses for breath, then goes on:

"Fancy not telling your daughters! The man's unbelievable."

"I know," I say. "He's just emailed Connie. Apparently he's upset I called him Gary Glitter."

"I thought you were a model of restraint, sis. I'm going to get drunk. I suggest you do the same."

Do you know, for once, Dinah might be right. I am going to hit the Gin. Hard. Probably while playing "Do You Wanna Be In My Gang?" Although Dinah and I seem to have been excluded from that particular invitation. We're probably too old.

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