Tomorrow I think that I’ll own up, or once Dad has calmed down anyway. I don’t know what he’ll do to me, he might laugh, he might cry, he might faint, he might even strangle me. But I think I’ve got to put him out of his misery. I like my Dad, he takes me fishing, he gives me arm wrestles in front of the fire on cold nights, he plays scrabble instead of watching the news in the evenings. He always keeps his promises. Always Dad has two bad parts though. The first is that he hates flies in fact he can’t stand them. If there were a fly buzzing around the living room of an evening, he’d kill it.
He wouldn’t use a spray, because it would damage the ozone layer, he’d chase them round with a fly swat. He’s a really good shot-he almost never misses. When his old one was almost worn out, I got him a nice new yellow one for his birthday. It wasn’t yellow for long. Soon it had bits of fly smeared over it. I think that its funny how many different colours that flies have inside them, mostly brown and black. Sometimes there are streaks of red and blue. I found that if you hold a wing up to the light, they flash like diamonds. Chasing flies is Dads first fault, his second is table manners, he’s mad about table manners.
It’s always my manners that matter. ‘Andrew,’ he says, ‘ don’t put your elbows on the table. ‘ ‘Don’t talk with your mouth full. ‘ ‘Don’t lick your fingers. ‘ ‘Don’t dunk your biscuit in the tea. ‘ He goes on this way every meal time; he has a thing about flies, and a thing about table manners. Anyway, back to the story. One day, Dad is pealing potatoes for tea. I’ve crawled under the table to look for a 50p that I lost about a week ago. Mum is cutting up cabbage. They do not know that I am there. It is going to be a very important meal because Mum’s Mum, or Dad’s Mother-in-law, or so it seems anyway, is coming for tea.
Dad never stops going on about my manners when some body comes for tea. ‘You should stop picking on Andrew at tea time,’ mum said. ‘I don’t,’ Dad replied. ‘Yes you do,’ says mum. ‘Its always “don’t do this, don’t do that. ” You give the boy a complex. ‘ I have never heard of a complex before but I think that it is something really bad, like spots. ‘Tonight,’ says mum, ‘I want you to go the whole meal without telling Andrew off once. ‘ ‘Easy,’ says Dad. ‘Try hard,’ says mum, ‘promise me that you won’t get cross with him. ‘ Dad looks at mum for a long time. ‘Okay,’ he says. ‘It’s a deal. I wont say a thing about manners.
But your not allowed to either. What’s good enough for me is good enough for you. ‘Shake,’ says mum. They shake hands and laugh. I find the 50p I was looking for and sneak out. I take a walk down to the shops to spend it before tea. Dad has promised not to tell me off at tea time. I think how I can make him crack. It should be easy. I’ll slurp my soup. He really hates that. He will tell me off. He might even yell. I just know that he cannot go the entire meal without telling me off. That night, mum set the table with a new tablecloth, the good knives and forks, and the plates that I am not allowed to touch.
She even puts out serviettes in the little rings. This means that this is a very important meal. We don’t usually use serviettes. Gran, (or Mum’s Mum) comes in her best clothes. She wears gold glasses and he frowns a lot. I don’t usually see her very much, so she doesn’t really know me, but I know from when I listened to Mum talking to Dad before, she doesn’t like children. It is easy to tell that she doesn’t like children. You can tell when someone does not like children because they smile at you with their lips but not with their eyes. Anyway, we sit down to tea. I put my secret weapon under the chair.
I’m sure that I can make Dad crack without it. But it is there if everything else fails. The first course is soup and bread rolls. I make loud slurping noises with the soup. Nobody makes any response. I make the noises longer and louder. It sounds like the bath empting. Dad clears his throat but says nothing. I try something different. I take a piece of bread roll. I dip it in the soup, hold it above my head and catch the drips in my mouth with a loud slurping noise. Nobody said anything so I tried the same thing with a larger piece of bread roll. Nothing is said, Dad looks at me, Mum looks at me, Gran tries not to look at me.
They are talking about how things have been over the last few years, since we meet last. They are pretending that I am not here. The next course is chicken. Dad will crack over the chicken. He’ll say something. He hates me picking up the bones. The chicken is served. ‘I’ve got the chickens bottom,’ I say in a loud voice. Dad glares at me but says nothing. I pick up the chicken and start stuffing it in my mouth. I grab a roast potato and break it in half. I dip my fingers into the butter and put some onto the potato it runs all over the plate. I have never seen Dad so mad before. He looks at me, he glares, he stares.
He clears his throat but says nothing. What a man. Nothing can make him break his promise. I snap a chicken bone in half and look through it like a telescope, it is hollow and I can see right through it, I say that I can see a pirate as I look through it at Dad. I suck and slurp and swallow. Dad is going red in the face. I can see the little veins in his nose sticking up. But does not crack. The final course is apple and custard. I will get him with that. Gran has started to talk about discipline and how much I seem to have changed in the last few years. I put the hollow chicken bone into the custard and start to use it as a straw.
Dad clears his throat. He is very red in the face. ‘Andrew,’ he says. He is going to crack. I have won. ‘Yes,’ I say with a mouth full of custard. ‘Nothing,’ he mumbles. Dad is terrific. He is under enormous pressure but still keeps his cool. There is only one thing left I can do. I take out the secret weapon. I place the fly swat on the table next to my knife, everybody watches me as I pick it up and begin to move it ever closer to my face and make it look like I am going to take a good bite off of it. To make things look worse I put some custard onto the fly swat and once again make it look like I was about to eat off of it.
Gran runs into the kitchen yelling, ‘He eats flies! ‘ I can hear her being sick in the sink. Dad stands up he cannot take anymore. He cracks, ‘Aaaaaaagh,’ he screams. He charges for me with his hands open and out like claws. I run for it I run into my room, lock the door and lay low for the night. Tomorrow, when he calms down I’ll own up, I’ll tell him that I went out and bought a 50p fly swat and covered it in currants and little bits of liquorice that I smeared onto the fly swat. Well, I wouldn’t really eat flies, not unless it was really important anyway.