Poking Seaweed with a Stick and Running Away from the Smell

Poking Seaweed with a Stick and Running Away from the Smell by Alison Whitelock Read Free Book Online

Book: Poking Seaweed with a Stick and Running Away from the Smell by Alison Whitelock Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alison Whitelock
Tags: book, BIO026000, BM
imagined it was her driving us home now and not him and thought about how she’d put the two-bar electric fire on when we got home and we’d all race to thaw our arses out in front of it and push and shove each other out of the way in a game that mostly ended in tears and always in burnt arses.
    My da pulled the van in off the main road and parked it on the gravel driveway and we jumped out and headed towards the house. The place looked dark and empty. I thought that maybe she was inside, you know, sitting in the dark, ’cause there had been a power cut or something and that she was in there right now looking for the candles. I remembered the last time we had a power cut and one of our neighbours, Sonia, came to our door with a big box of candles that she had spare after she’d noticed our lights off for a long, long time. The next day we made a huge pot of mince and onion curry and took a big plate of it to Sonia and that was our way of saying thanks, without ­actually saying it, ’cause back in those days you didn’t thank people for stuff, you just grunted in their general direction and then made them a mince and onion curry or a short-crust apple pie. Either way they’d be happy and grateful too, but as tradition dictated they didn’t say thanks either. They just ate what was offered and gave you your plates and short-crust apple-pie dishes back clean.
    We got inside the house and the worst was confirmed. Mum wasn’t there. But Buster our pet boxer was and he stuck his wet nose up my school skirt and licked my arse and I knelt down and cuddled him and when I looked into his big brown eyes he sniffed at my face and licked my salty tears.
    â€˜Yir mither’s gone,’ my da said and we didn’t say anything, just sat there on the green vinyl couch with our duffle coats on. The room was dark and cold and he put on one bar of the two-bar electric fire and heated his own arse at it and I looked at him and wished the hairs on his arse would catch fire.
    Days passed, I don’t know how many, I lost track. We went to school every day and every day we looked at the school gates at four o’clock just in case she’d be there again with her red brushed-nylon coat and blue-and-gold headscarf, but she never came. Sometimes I thought if I shut my eyes and wished hard enough when I opened them she’d be there, but Izzy said it didn’t work like that and that we just had to be patient.
    It seemed like an eternity since we last saw her. Then one day we came home from school and both bars of the ­electric fire were on and there was a big pot of mince and onion curry on the electric ring and me, Izzy and Andrew dropped our school bags and ran through the house calling her, desperate to see her, and as we ran through the living room I saw her red brushed-nylon coat slung across the arm of the green vinyl couch and I felt warm inside.

11
Nanny wears a beanie and Grampa joins the circus
    She was Mum’s mum and the kindest woman in the world. I never saw her consume anything other than tea and toast and I learnt her generosity by osmosis. Nanny was a market trader and the market lay down a cobbled laneway in the backstreets of Glasgow where hawkers and tinkers set up market stalls too and sold their wares regardless of the weather. It stank in the lane and it was dreech and dank but nothing would stop Nanny from going there ’cause she had her customers to attend to. So every day she put on her beanie and her winter coat and she went down the lane and that was that. The lane was full of drunk men who begged for money to buy whisky. I saw a sober man once and I was so surprised I asked Nanny, ‘What’s wrong with him?’
    â€˜He’s sober, hen,’ Nanny said, without missing a beat, while she rummaged through Jessie’s cardigans and jumpers, four for a pound.
    Nanny had a sixth sense for finding a bargain and she passed this glorious gift

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