Posted on August 9, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair8.9.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by Fred Herzog August 9, 2014: He loved his work. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Our dad worked up in a garage by Brentcross. Messing with engines he said, pulling their insides apart and putting them back together again and putting them back together good as new. He came home smelling of oil and green soap and cigarettes, and dirt under his fingernails. And our mum said he was not to sit on the furniture in the clothes he was wearing and so when he came home from work he showered and changed first – every day, ‘cept Friday.
Friday was payday and our dad sat in the kitchen drinking tea from a thick-lipped plain white mug. ‘Best day of the week,’ he said then and he dropped a half-sized brown envelope onto the table. Inside was a list of all the hours our dad had worked and a calculation of the money he’d earned, and the money, folded notes and jangling coins. Our mum counted it out in front of us and it was different every week.
It was our mum’s job to divvy up the money, giving some to our dad, some put by for the rent man and some for the electric. She gave a shilling to me and a shilling to Robbie for our pockets and we had to make it last. Then she made a note of what was left, wrote the figure down in a small black book, so she could plan the week’s shopping and savings.
On Fridays, after he’d drank his tea, our dad went out again, returning a half hour later with beer on his breath and carrying our tea under his arm: fish and chips wrapped in newspaper and the air in the kitchen was thick with fat smells and vinegar smells and fish. If it was summer, we’d sit on the back step to eat our chips and fish, even our mam, picking everything up with our fingers. And dad had more beer in his jacket pockets, a bottle each side, and he’d lever the top off a bottle with his thumb.
When we were, finished – and our dad had eaten the last of our mum’s chips – we sat back and grinned and we all of us felt then that Friday was the best day of the week and our dad touched our mum, touched her hand and looked soft. And he said our mum was the prettiest girl in all the street and mum smiled and blushed, and me and Robbie laughed to hear our mum called a girl but not laughing at her called pretty.
All of that was when we were small enough our dad called us nippers. It’s different now. Our mum says that our dad is in love with his work these days, because he’s so long there. Working all hours and never home till it’s dark, and gone before we are up and out of our beds. Our mum makes jokes when he’s at home on a Sunday. ‘Boys, this is your dad. Take a good look. You probably don’t recognize him.’
One school holiday I recall and our mum said she’d had enough, though she didn’t say what she’d had enough of, and she said she was going for a week to her mother’s. Me and Robbie went every day to our dad’s work, up to the Brentcross garage. Our dad showed us engines and showed us how to undo nuts and bolts and how to get to the ‘nub of the problem’ and how to fix things. And our fingernails had dirt under ‘em and at the end of the day we smelled of oil and green soap and cigarettes. And we got to drink tea with our sandwich lunch, tea with milk and three sugars out of cups that were stained inside with the brown rings of years. And a secretary there, called Frannie, said we were handsome just like our dad, and our dad winked at us and he said Frannie was the prettiest girl in all of England.
Me and Robbie just looked at each other.