Granddad Turner was dozing on the settee in front of “One Man And His Dog”. Just how dogs worrying sheep in and out of pens against the clock constituted entertainment was beyond me. His gentle snores and snorts of half-waking were the usual percussion of late afternoon. Weak Winter sunlight leaked into our living room through nicotine-stained net curtains.
It was still six weeks to Christmas and only ten days beyond that to my birthday. Surely that would be enough time to talk Mom and Dad into combining presents and buying me a guitar.
I waited until after dinner and Granddad was on his own and nodding off, and decided to practice my persuasive patter on him .
"The thing is Granddad, I'm not a little kid any more," I said as I sat next to him. "I'll be fifteen this January and I was thinking it would be good for me to have something as a hobby. Y'know, keep me off the streets, out of trouble. Something I could do instead of fighting and smoking cigarettes - er, not that I ever do them things now. But you never know." I added, trying a hint of menace.
He shifted slightly and leaked a silent fart into the room that I wouldn't discover for a couple of minute.
"So I was thinking perhaps if I had a guitar, a real one. For Christmas and me birthday together, like. I'd practice every day and I wouldn't bother you. With the noise I mean. And they've got some nice ones at Woolworths or in Mom's catalog that don’t cost that much really. And I could do stuff to help if you like. I mean, wash the dishes. Or go to the shops."
This was only a rehearsal pitch. When it came to the real thing with Mom and Dad, these offers of helping do stuff would have to be kept in emergency reserve, to be used only when absolutely necessary. I didn't want to spend valuable playing time up to my elbows in soapy water, or down the shops.
He shifted again in his doze. Then he opened one bloodshot eye and squinted at me.
"Orroight then," he said, "yow can goo and get me a packet of Guards and a bottle of brown ale."
He dug in his pocket and tossed me half a crown. Canny old sod heard a lot more than he let on, when it suited him. And Jesus on a raft! What the bleedin' hell was that smell!
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