Sunday, 20 March 2011

An Excess Of Poisoning Incidents, And The Last Will And Testament Of Molly "Didn't Live Through The War" Bennett.

As if last night's journey to Dorset wasn't bad enough, now someone's trying to poison me again. And this time it's Dad, though I bet he'll deny it when the Police find the note I'm going to hide in my pocket.

He's already disinherited me for yesterday's Gary Glitter disaster, but the punishment isn't over yet. Now I have to eat a meal he's cooked.

I wouldn't be having to risk my life at all if I'd been able to drop him off at his house and drive straight back home - as per the original plan - but once we broke down about half-way there, everything went completely t*ts-up. (Metaphorically-speaking, of course. I do have some dignity left.)

I'll say this for the *RAC, though: at least they employ staff who know why it's important to be indoors by 9:00pm on a Saturday night. As soon as I'd explained that I must reach my destination by then, the operator said,

"Oh, you watching The Killing, are you? Great, isn't it?"

Now there's a woman of taste and discernment - unlike the mechanic she subsequently dispatched to the scene, who looked at the car as if it was a relic from the dark ages, and then sighed heavily and asked me to open the bonnet. He didn't look convinced that I actually could.

I still have no idea what he said the problem was, either, which didn't help. He mumbled so much that I couldn't hear him over Dad, who was still ranting about what I'd said - or rather, sung - to the Thai Bride over the phone. People's sense of humour is much more mutable than previously thought, so it's probably a good thing that the breakdown man didn't hear what Dad and I were arguing about, or not properly, anyway.

"Did you say Thai Bride?" he said to Dad. "You been to Pattaya too? Lovely girls there, aren't they? Feminine - not like women in this country."

"And they like old men, too," I said. (In my head - I still needed the car fixed, don't forget.)

Anyway, once Dad and Mr Pattaya had bonded over the attractions of Bar Girls, the repair of whatever the hell it was that was wrong with the car was completed so quickly that - without any speeding - I managed to pick up a take-away and get to Dad's house in time for The Killing to start.

Even better, Dad decided that he'd missed so much of the rugby by then, that he couldn't be bothered to argue about what we watched.

"I'm tired," he said. "I've recorded the match anyway, so I'll watch it tomorrow."

I didn't argue, so then Dad went to bed, leaving me alone with the gorgeous *Troels - though I'm starting to worry that he may have worms. All that eating, and yet he never gains weight. Unlike Dad, who's probably going to revert to eating nothing but cholesterol as soon as he's left on his own - unless I can find a way to change the habit of a lifetime. Preferably by covert means.

I don't sleep very well for wondering how I'm going to achieve this impossible objective, and am none the wiser when I get up this morning - until I start to make a cup of tea, and find that there's no milk. Dad goes next door to borrow some, and by the time he gets back, I've worked out a plan.

"I'll take you shopping before I leave," I say. "We can get some ready meals in, so you don't have to cook while you're still not well."

"Do you think I'm made of money?" says Dad, opening the freezer door and rummaging around inside. "Don't be so bloody stupid. There's plenty of food in here, and I'm perfectly capable of looking after myself. I'll even cook a Sunday lunch before you go."

He pulls out a plastic bag containing something brown that looks pretty dubious to me. We don't need to worry half as much as we do about global warming, not if the thickness of the ice covering both the inside and the outside of the packaging is anything to go by.

I mention this worrying observation to Dad, who just says,

"Global Warming? Doesn't exist. Conspiracy to send us all back to horses and carts."

Then he shakes some of the ice off the freezer bag, and peers at the label that's just been revealed.

"We'll have - um - Chilli con carne - and, um -"

He turns back to the freezer, rummages some more, and then holds up another mysterious find.

"Sprouts!" he says, triumphantly. This meal's becoming more appetising by the second.

I daren't object, though - not after the Gary Glitter incident - so I make myself useful by offering to clean the kitchen up a bit, while Dad chucks the frozen stuff into some pans. Then he turns the gas on and wanders off to watch the match, leaving me staring in horror at what I've just found.

The inside of the fridge looks like a bio-hazard, and I'm tempted to slam the door shut and evacuate the area - but someone has to protect Dad from himself. So I tie a grubby tea-towel around my nose and mouth, and put my winter gloves on my hands, before going back in for a closer look.

Why on earth would anyone keep half a slice of ancient beef - if beef is actually what it was - on a saucer with two fossilised roast potatoes? Or a minute amount of what looks like cherry pie filling, once you scrape the green mould aside?

"What the hell are you doing with that?" says Dad, who really shouldn't sneak up on people who might have inherited his high blood pressure.

He scares me so much that I almost drop the juice carton that I'm holding, while pouring its contents down the sink. Almost-clear liquid runs out, followed by the occasional plop of a fermenting lump.

"Getting rid of this," I say, trying not to breathe in at the same time. "Why?"

"That's the orange juice I have for breakfast."

"It might have been when you first opened it," I say. "But that was at least three weeks ago."

Dad elbows me out of the way, closes the fridge door and leans on it. Then he folds his arms as if to dare me to move him out of the way.

"A bit of fizziness never did anyone any harm," he says. "Now go and watch that last try. I've got the video on pause for you."

Luckily, he follows me into the sitting room, where he quickly becomes so engrossed in yelling abuse at the French that I soon manage to tiptoe back to the kitchen without him noticing. Once there, I complete the fastest cupboard search you've ever seen, and then really, really wish I hadn't.

Every single packet and tin bears a date that's expired - most of them by years, not months. It's a miracle a heart bypass is all he required.

I find a new bin bag in the cupboard underneath the oven and chuck almost everything from the cupboard into it. Then I open the freezer to check on that.

"Come on," says Dad. "Dinner's almost ready - pass me those plates and I'll dish it up."

I turn around to do as he asks, but then he spots the bin bag in my hand.

"What's that?" he says. "What are you throwing away now?"

"Food, " I say. "So out of date that I'm surprised you haven't got botulism, or something much worse."

Dad looks horrified, and snatches the bag out of my hand.

"Good God, woman," he says, as he looks inside it, and then pulls all the jars and tins back out. "Bloody wasteful, your generation. You can see you didn't live through the war."

"I'm amazed you did, if you were eating gone-off food," I say.

"Pfft," says Dad, taking the saucepans off the stove, and spooning the mush onto the plates. The sprouts have now been boiling for at least forty minutes, but that's not the worst of it. I've just had a seriously horrible thought.

While Dad is on his knees, searching in yet another cupboard for a bottle of Thai Chilli Sauce to "spice things up a bit more," I race to the freezer, yank the door open and grab the first bag that I find. Which turns out to be an exact duplicate of the one that originally held the food that I'm about to be forced to consume.

"Chilli?" it says. "June 2003."

If I should die, then I leave everything to Max and the children - except my old video recordings of Yes, Minister and my D:Ream single, both of which I leave to Greg. I request that someone advise him that the former are now much more relevant than the latter. My debts, in full, I bequeath to The Boss, with my most sincere respect and thanks.

*RAC - breakdown cover and roadside assistance - a necessity with a car as old as ours. Though I can take or leave their Thai Bride advice.
*Troels - Troels Hartmann, politician and on-off murder suspect in The Killing. You may look but do not touch. He is mine, unless I should die by my father's hand.

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