It is always a bit odd going to play at someone's house for the first time. You know that person from school and they seem OK when you are with them in the playground. But it can go funny when people are in their own rooms. They can turn in to the world's biggest selfish person and show you their toys but not let you touch them or just sit on the gameboy all day while you go off and play with a football on your own or their Mum takes over and makes you Play Properly (see left). On the other hand I once had Tyson over to play and he didn't show up - turns out he saw someone more interesting down the road and his mum took him to play with them. He didn't even know them. He said he'd forgotten my address. Hmmm.
Anyway when I got home there is a man standing in the sitting room as though he owns it. He has one beefy hand on the mantlepiece and the other sausagey fingers are waggling about in the air as he spouts on about beetles. He has dark floppy hair and a face which juts out at you. On the end of his chin is a beard so small and pointy you wonder why he bothers. And I know him from somwhere, I just cannot remember where. The Parents are both sitting down, nodding their heads as though he is actually interesting to them. Mum is also grinning in a soppy way and Dad is stroking his bushy crumbcrusty beard.
He finally sees me and says, 'Wilfred, this is Dr Morten. He has come over to ask you something...'
Pointy beard chortles and says, 'Oh, call me Chas, please!' Mum giggles.
That's it! Chas Morten, the Bug Man off the TV! Mum LOVES him. I think he is rubbish. The man who tracks dangerous predators is much better. Chas puts a hand through his hair.
'Good to meet you, Wilfred. Miranda has told me all about you!'
'HELLO WILF,' Miranda calls from somewhere in the house, could be down the road with her voice. Right now it feels like an invasion.
'Miranda makes friends so easily,' says Chas as she strolls into the room and stands beside him, 'comes from having such a cosmopolitan upbringing I suppose. We've travelled all over the world with my job.'
'And your wife?' asks Mum, smiling, 'are we going to meet her?'
He tuts. 'Malaria - again.' It's her own fault, forgot to take the tablets. Still she manages.'
Mum stops smiling and gulps. 'Has she seen the doctor?'
'Oh, we saw a doctor a couple of years ago when she caught yellow fever down the Zambezi.'
'No, Daddy,' pipes up Miranda, 'that was lassa fever and it was a year ago; she lost an arm after a pirahna attack two years ago!'
And they both laugh at their silly mistake. Dad pulls at his beard and some hair comes out.
'Then there's the food poisoning on top of the malaria, daddy.' Miranda makes a serious face. 'The doctor said you're not allowed to keep those fungus eating woodlice in the kitchen...'
'Can't eat them anymore either, I suppose,' says Chas and he sighs.
They both sigh. The Parents look at one another.
'When are you off bug hunting again?' asks Dad. 'Soon?'
'No!' says Chas, 'I'm on weevil watch!' As though that explains anything.
'Right,' says Dad.
'Weevils!' laughs Chas, 'Don't you just love them?'
'Especially on toast,' nods Miranda.
'I'll say! Anyway,' says Chas, 'maybe young Wilfred like to come and join us for tea? Can't eat the weevils though - sorry.'
I have never seen my Mum's eyes wider. 'Aren't you playing football with, Dexter?'
'I think Dexter is coming over here, Wilf,' Dad is nodding fiercely at me.
That does it. 'If he's coming, I'm going,' I say.