Been stressing about the 5th of November since about the 3rd of November. Last few years I’ve been buying a box of fireworks for the kids and letting them off in the garden. Thing is, the fireworks are pretty shit. They hold the kids’ attention for about five minutes. It’s because most of them aren’t rockets.
So I was delighted when my wife’s fat father phoned up this morning. “Hey, James, you want to see some fireworks tonight?” He asked. James? That fucks me off. Don’t know why he calls me that. Now, and this is important for the rest of this thing, remember it – my wife’s folks hate each other. They flipping well detest each other but they’ve a massive house and put on a great spread and the kids love going there. I agreed to go.
My wife was shocked because I generally avoid going there if I can
Did I say ‘folks’ a couple of paragraphs ago? Simon will shit when he sees that. Simon’s my agent.
Folks. I like that.
“Did he sound angry?” She asks me, talking about her father.
“No, sounded in a good mood.”
“They haven’t been gett-“
“Zzzzz, boring! Hey listen to this.”
“What?” Asked my wife and I fixed my face. Had to not laugh. Had to deliver this straight.
“You know where we’re going tonight?”
“Er, to my parents.”
“Listen to this,” I said. It was going to be the greatest thing ever said.
“The Bonfire of the Manatees.”
My wife was stunned.
“Eh?” I held my breath and my shoulders shook but I managed to contain my laugh inside my face.
“Bonfire of the what?” She asked and I made a noise a bit like I was clearing the back of my throat.
“What’s a manatees?”
“Oh it’s… it’s a bit like a dolphin. A weird seal.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Because your parents are fat.”
“No they’re not.”
“They are a bit.”
“So are yours.”
“No they’re not. Anyway, yours hate each other.”
“Your dad’s dead.”
“That’s not his fault, for fuck’s sake.”
“He committed suicide!”
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
Anyway, that went on for ages. Then tonight I get there, pull up to their house. It’s cold which is kinda nice for Bonfire Night. Not like Halloween – that was weird, huh? Being so warm on Halloween.. I notice there’s no bonfire in the large garden, which is a bit of a disappointment.
Ring the doorbell. He opens it. He’s not actually that fat, I note. But he asks if we’re ready for fireworks. We are. He shouts for Claire. She comes down, I note she’s not fat either. I wonder if I should go back and edit out the stuff about the manatee. I decide to style it out. He rolls his sleeves up and they start a slanging match, there at the bottom of the stairs and I mean it’s a right old ding-dong which soon develops into a full-blown fist fight. We’re standing there. Still in the doorway. He’s got her in a headlock. Kids start crying. My wife’s having one of her things. I usher the kids back to the car.