Sunday, November 12, 2006
A brief word about dunking biscuits. You may or may not have strong views about which biscuit is the best biscuit for dunking purposes. I like digestives, Dexter likes ginger nuts and that says quite a lot, I think.
When I get home from school Mum is sitting in the kitchen drinking a cup of tea. She pours me a mug and I take two digestives for double dunking. Mum always asks the same questions.
'How was school?'
And I always give the same answers.
'Fine,' I say, dipping my digestives into the tea, unless you count being called, 'Alan' every two minutes. I suck the biscuit.
'Anything interesting happen?' she asks.
'No,' I mumble, unless you count your ex-best friend claiming to be kidnapped by aliens.
'Good,' she says and gets up. 'It's vegetable medley tonight - got to use up the veg box.' She rummages through the dark spotty remains of the organic carrots and cabbage. Yuk. I take three more biscuits very quickly.Then she pulls out a manky piece of celery and that reminds me.
'Mum, do you like stick insects for example?'
'No,' she says, then adds, 'but Grandpa Jack is outside with his stinky pipe.'
I pocket the illegal biscuits and run out of the back door and into the mysterious world of the garden. One time, we lost our neighbour in here. She went in searching for cats but Dad found her again and put her back in her own garden before she starved to death.
'Grandpa!' I call into the dark trees and bushes.
'I'm here!' comes a voice.
I peer into the gloom and see a faint curl of blue smoke rise up near where Dad's shed is. Luckily I know the path and I plunge into the head-high undergrowth and push my way through to the shack . One of Grandpa's hands is outside the window, holding his smoking pipe. The rest of Grandpa is inside perched on the rusty lawnmower. I lean against a stack of old flowerpots.
'Your mother won't let me smoke in doors,' he says. He pulls at his beard and looks around the tiny space. 'You weren't followed, my boy?' he asks.
I shake my head.
'Because what I have to say is top secret.'
'OK,' I say.
'We are not alone,' he says and nods his head. In his excitement he begins to smoke his pipe inside the shed.
'There's no-one else around, Grandpa, I say - I told you, I wasn't followed.'
'You don't understand, young fella,' he coughs and I can hardly see him now because of the dark and the smoke. 'I've seen it!'
'On my way back from the pub, my boy, I took a short cut through Fiddler's Field,' he waves his pipe in the air, 'and I saw it with my own two eyes... a crop circle!'
He said it like I should understand what he was on about. I try and look keenly intelligent.
'Don't look so dim, Wilfred! What are they teaching you in school these days! A crop circle, a perfect pattern created in the long grass!'
I nod wisely.
He tuts. 'Created by inhuman hands!'
'Evidence of an alien invasion!!'
Now that I understand. This is starting to get a bit odd. First Dexter, now Grandpa Jack; it is time to go indoors and face the vegetable medley.