Cambridge last week and Dad and I head over to the car and then he stops short. I look closer too and yes..someone has slashed our tyre. Not just slashed.. Eviscerated. Apparently they didn’t like us parking in front of their house. I can see their net curtains twitching as we struggle with the spanner and the flat, spare tyre and Dad’s knuckles get bloody trying to wind the ridiculous jack. I wonder if I should phone the cops but know they will not be able to prove anything. The man in the garage says it is likely the nasty neighbour will only come over and break my windows if we cause a scene…we decide to keep schtum.
The window of the tyre slasher’s house has a Union Jack flag in it. Ahh Britain.
A few days later and in quite another Britain we are in the car with the sun blasting and the magnificent K in the back reading bits from the book ‘Land of Liberty?’ (Note the question mark. We both agree that historians really don’t know how to pitch a good title. The other course book he is delving into is called..get this little thriller…’The Whig Oligargy’ for crying out loud. Bet that shifts off the shelves…hmm)
Next to him on the back seat behind my dad, my brother snoozes on and off. He is mostly being mean and moody this holiday with only occasional flashes of his usual sweetness. He has a lot a lot a lot on his mind and there is not much I or anyone else in the car can do to ease his anxiety. To stop getting shouted at by him all the time I have reverted to popping the words ‘Dad says..’ into any sentence that involves an ask or a task. He doesn’t get angry if Dad is involved. Of course I overuse this and am caught out. Dad obviously didn’t ‘say’ don’t use Tanvir’s toothpaste…neither did he say ‘ its your round.’
We eat crab sandwiches, ice cream and drink ale or cider everywhere: Honiton, Lyme Regis, Seaton, Beer, Sidmouth, and many small villages I can’t remember. (Bro and Dad in Branscombe)
The gorgeous fishing village of Beer is defiantly a favourite but there is that one moment when, desperate to stretch legs, the Magnificent K, my moody Bro and I look longingly at the half mile walk over the cliffs and I realise Dad can’t really do it. His is already stiff, his knees and feet ache.
‘Come on Dad’ says bro. ‘It’ll be fun’
‘He can’t do it, ‘ I say without thinking and kick myself. Hard.
‘I could do it..’ he says ..’ I just think I’d rather drive over and meet you.’
My heart does a small twist. Age is brutal. Rage rage…
The Beer Quarry was a hoot. Acres of man made tunnels, dark, dank and sppoooooky! Down we go..the Magnifecent K who is
claustrophobic, me who sees nowt in the dark and Dad and Bro. There is a couple of little families.
‘Hey T’ says dad. ‘You just keep your eye on that little girl. You’ll be fine.’
. As the little girl heads off into the dark the lights in the heels of her trainers flash red. I grin at Dad. Nice one.
We cook each night in the ancient but sumptuous holiday cottage in Burwell (‘Love Cottage’ no less.). The floors slope from side to side like a ship and the heavy huge old timber beams knock the magnificent K nearly unconscious every time he stands up (he is 6’4’’ and by far the tallest of our family so it is entirely his own fault. I, being the shortest, end up having to sleep in the bunk bed. Bollocks.)
We play cards and drink wine and eventually I even get up early enough to run a couple of times. It’s too late though … I have a distinct ale belly and some further roundness to my chops.
(Magnificent K plays close to his chest)
Then K and Bro head back to London and Dad and I are left , on the last day, whittling time and staring at cows passing the windows of the pub, trying and failing to outdo each other with dreadful puns about udders as we don’t really want to talk about that horrid unavoidable fact that Dad is getting on a bit and we won’t mention that he stumbled, slipped and nearly fell through a glass window earlier as we wandered around Sidmouth.
We could talk about me being a shiftless jobless state scrounger…and we do but only briefly as more cows low past and we are distracted by empty glasses.
I get the rounds in and he buys the fish supper.
Chips and ale? You bet yer life.