AT THE KITCHEN TABLE
You sit, picking your nose whilst flicking through the latest copy of Kerrang! See how your grey school trousers are cut off at the knee, and how big-stitched onto the pocket of your black school blazer is a patch that says AC/DC. Canted, it half-hides that bigger blue castle behind. On your head sits a red baseball cap, onto which someone has rough-sewn the horns of a devil. They are over-stuffed and cow-like. You open cheese and onion, then salt and vinegar crisps, pouring both into a black china bowl. You turn a page of Kerrang! eat a crisp, get up, then bend down to a nearby kitchen cupboard. From your backside hangs the tail of a devil, over-stuffed and dog-like, now wagging you back to the table, Labrador-happy at finding the brown sauce... What the BLOODY HELL are YOU DRESSED AS? your mum pops, dropping her work-bag onto the table. And WHAT have you DONE to your SCHOOL TROUSERS?... She blinks. You look down at the HP, sit, shuffle, and with an understated sweep of your free hand, you dress the devil’s tail to the left. Your mum mutters Beyond, and Belief. Why? she says. You shrug. Say, Disco. What? she says, Fancy dress? You pull the peak of your cap down. Your horns twitch like fat divining rods. No, you say, Just the Church Hall disco. Brown sauce runs down your chin. You scoop it with a finger then suck it clean. So WHY are you going DRESSED AS... Her hand becomes an emulsion brush. You drink some dandelion and burdock pop, then mumble something about Angus and For a laugh. Your mum does a little hop, landing wide-eyed and open-palmed like a minstrel. I KNOW WHO YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE! she says. YOU’RE THAT BLOODY ANGUS WHATZIZNAME FROM THAT STUPID BLOODY POP GROUP AND YOU’VE GONE AND CUT THE LEGS OFF YOUR BEST BLOODY SCHOOL TROUSERS TO DO IT!... You go over to the sink, rinse the black china bowl, place it face down on the draining board. You say, Can I have my pocket money?... Please?... Your mum looks up at the ceiling. JESUS! YOU’RE CHEEKY DAFT, LAD! YOU’VE JUST COST ME ANOTHER PAIR OF BLOODY SCHOOL TROUSERS! AND YOU KNOW WHAT ME AND YOUR DAD SAID LAST WEEK! IT’S TIME YOU LEARNED A LESSON BY HAVING TO EARN YOUR MONEY! THEN MAYBE YOU WOULDN’T WASTE IT ON MAKING YOURSELF BLOODY SICK ALL OVER YOUR BEDROOM FLOOR! I did the logs, you tell her. OHHH NO! she says, THERE’S STILL THAT PILE BY THE PIGGERY! I’VE GOT EYES IN ME HEAD, YOU KNOW!... She slides a chair out from under the kitchen table. What about half now, half tomorrow? you say. She prods the air between you and her. SIT, she says... Her green work-bag falls over on the table, a yellow Tupperware box and a red purse spilling from its mouth. Your mother stares at you... Listen. We’re trying to teach you something here. IF YOU END UP LIKE... Are you listening to me? IF YOU END UP LIKE... She stands up and moves over to the worktop, rips off a piece of kitchen roll, blows her nose, flicks a switch on the kettle. You pull at your baseball cap, slide lower into your seat. Your mum puts a teabag into a cup, straightens a tea towel on the oven door, puts the crisp bags into the bin, stands her work-bag up, opens her purse... Here, she says. Three pound notes lay across Gene Simmons’ tongue, leering wet from front page of Kerrang! I’m doing steak and chips for tea, she says. I’m off out in a bit, you say. She sighs, and fifty pence joins the three pound notes, balancing silver on the tip of the hideous tongue. For chips, she says.
In the kitchen, that muffled rumble from upstairs is the sound of the shower washing your mum’s workday away. Your hands move quickly. Green work-bag, red purse, blue fiver... disco.