Dad worked hard, I mean really hard… Which earned him the right to sometimes eat his home-coming dinner, tucked comfortably in his armchair with a dinner tray on his knee; keenly chewing his cud while his eyes were fixed to the television, only glancing down at his plate every couple of minutes to load another forkful of fodder.
A night shift waited for dad and he hadn’t long been out of his bed; cleanly shaved, relaxing in his vest, this time enjoying a light supper in his chair. Dad chewed and swallowed, chuckled at the tv here and there and seemed quite content with his lot. Actually, he was prone to throwing the occasional frown at me and my brother… We were engrossed in an elastic band fight – here and there a rogue-rubber would whip past him, catching his eye and prompting the warning, “will you two be careful!?” It wasn’t so much a request as an order… Still we carried on.
The best way to inflict pain on your competitor was to fold very small pieces of paper and card, extend your thumb and forefinger, making a catapult type rubber-band sling and fire the projectiles at any areas of exposed skin. We did this once by loading up our hands, crashing in through the bathroom door, which had no lock, and peppering my sister Sylvia with paper bullets as she sat screeching in the bath, hands struggling to decide whether to protect her dignity or her face and arms! Ah, happy days… Okay, so anyway, dad’s chewing rhythmically and savouring his flavours…bless.
Above us and around the light shade were three or four flies, you know the kind, those little ones that seem to just float in a meandering and random pattern around the shade? Yeah? Well, we thought it would be a reasonable endeavour to aim and shoot at those flies with our bits of paper and elastic bands. Until I shot a penny out of mine! Unfortunately for me, my shot was a fluke-like bullseye and shattered the light bulb under the shade! Small, thin and hot shards of glass rained down on dad and most of it sraight into his dinner plate! Not a garnish he’d planned! Dad flew from his chair, banging the tray down on the coffee table in front of him, took me firmly by the shoulders and roasted me without mercy! Of course I sobbed, I cried like a baby, although not because of the scolding but because during his verbal thrashing, he accidentally spat some of what he was eating straight into my eye! Whatever morsel that was, it stung like you wouldn’t believe! From then on, elastic bands were given the status of contraband – dad wasn’t always around though and sisters made for excellent target practice…