Castle Pillock 6
The Scion fetches up at the door with a bright grin and a bag of doughnuts from Morrison’s. ‘Hello mother!’
‘What do you want?’
An affectionate shoulder to shoulder nudge. ‘You old cynic, you.’
‘What have you done?’
‘I’ll put the kettle on. Raspberry jam in the ‘nuts, I know it’s your favourite.’
‘What have you not done?’’
‘Um, well, you know those letters from Revenue and Customs…’
Seventeen hundred bloody quid. I would imagine about two thirds of it is unpaid fines and interest from ignoring the letters politely reminding him he has ignored the letters requesting his tax return. I would have told him to stuff his final demand where the sun will never reach, but we’re way beyond the final demand. We’re at the third bailiff’s letter, get the telly unplugged ready for departure, we’ll see you on the doorstep next Tuesday. My telly. The little sod never told them he’d moved.
After about ten minutes I stopped to draw breath.
‘I’ll pay it back.’
A further ten minutes and I paused for breath number two.
‘I’ll – ‘
I was quicker that time.
I’ve never read my kids’ letters, or emails, or diaries. I knew the stuff was coming from Revenue and Customs, and we had A Talk, and I explained that he had to get on the phone and arrange to repay in instalments, and he said he would, and he refused to tell me how much he owed, so I warned him that I could not afford to pay it, whatever it was, and if it came to the Bailiffs, ho ho, I would not be amused. God, mother, it won’t come to that.
I’m a pillock.
I have recently managed to get a decent price for my soul and invested the income in a small but perfectly formed ISA, the first savings product of any kind I have ever owned. Every single penny of this was spoken for, in planned works to stop Castle Pillock falling down round my ears, catching fire or disappearing into a sink hole. I did hope I might get a new fridge out of it as well, as my current one is fourteen years old and burps with disgust every time I present it with food.
It actually seems a bit happier this week. I guess it knows it’s now pretty well guaranteed a home in its dotage. Which is more than can be said for some of us.
I did contemplate chucking a few items of crockery at the Scion, but that would have seemed a weird repeat of one of my last interactions with his father. Also, I can’t bloody afford to replace so much as a mug now.
My little ISA. Its life was always going to be short but sweet. Now a shadow of its former self, like Beth in Little Women it bravely faces the inevitable, while we who love it can only stand in the shadows and weep.
‘Um, I’ll just go now, shall I?’
‘I think that would be best. And put down those bloody doughnuts!!! Have you NO shame???’
Meanwhile, over in her sheltered flat, the Dowager Lady Pillock has fallen out with both her reading group and the people who run her emergency lifeline service.
The Dowager is nearly eighty-eight, and spent a good two thirds of those years moving house. My dad worked in the oil industry – not in the glamorous Dallas type bits, but in the dusty oil refineries in the middle of nowhere bits, back in the days when a place like Dubai was an airstrip and a couple of camels. The Dowager wasn’t fazed. The Dowager was brought up in Dickensian conditions in the East End, was bombed out in the Blitz, and as a student nurse once told the Matron of a hospital she was a disgrace to Florence Nightingale (the Dowager thus remains an only partly trained nurse). Not a lot ruffles the Dowager’s feathers, but when it does she reaches for the phone, where she has my number on speed dial.
‘Okay, Mum, okay. I’ll give them a ring. No, Mum, don’t cancel the lifeline. Please don’t cancel the lifeline. Remember what happened before you had the lifeline? We don’t want that again, do we? Yes I know they just call an ambulance to take you over the bloody hospital, but at least someone knows you need taking over the bloody hospital. I don’t know you need taking over the bloody hospital unless you ring me, and your mobile’s no good in your handbag when you’re flat on your face in the bathroom. WELL YOU SHOULD WEAR THE PENDANT IN THE BATHROOM, IT’S MADE SO YOU CAN WEAR IT IN THE BATHROOM. Yes. I’ll ring them. I’m sorry Audrey said that about your choice for the reading group. Yes, I’m sure she is. Right up it. Yes, I’ll call in tomorrow, on my way home from work. I’ll bring some doughnuts, if you like. How about raspberry?’
It’s been a raspberry of a week, all things considered.