One Reply to “3.2.2015 Journal Prompt”

  1. Old as doilies or hair oil. That’s what he says. I don’t even know what a doily is and I don’t know about hair oil neither. He laughs when I ask, laughs like crows laughing, all crack and split. It don’t nevermind, he says and he says he’ll have a pint of bitter if I’m going to the bar, which I wasn’t but I do for him.

    He said that about old in response to me asking how he was. I’m not sure what sort of an answer it was supposed to be. And standing at the bar, waiting for the barman to put a head on my father’s bitter, I find things in my head that I should have said in reply to his ‘old’. I should have said he wasn’t really old. That he had plenty of years in him yet. That he shouldn’t be thinking himself old and past his time.

    The barman hands me the pint and he rings up the price on the till and drops the change into my palm.

    I put the pint down on the table in front of my father and he asks me if I’ve got crisps. I tell him I haven’t, that he hadn’t asked for crisps. He laughs, crow-scatter laughing, and says it’s ok and he sips at his beer leaving a white foam moustache on his top lip which he does not immediately wipe away.

    I say then what was in my head at the bar, about him not being old. He looks at me like I am daft or like I have spoken in a language he does not understand or as though he has come in on the middle of a coneversation and he can;t quite make sense of what I’ve said.

    ‘Old as doilies or hair oil, you said. And I just mean, you’re not old.’

    He sniffs and he licks the foam at his lip.

    ‘And anyway,’ I say, ‘age is just a number and not really what you are, what anyone is.’

    He leans into me then and he says in a whisper like he is telling secrets, ‘Older than milk in glass bottles with foil tops, older than pineapple cubes in white paper bags with the corners twisted like mouse ears and sugar collected in the bottom of the bag when the sewwts is all eaten.’ And he laughs again. ‘Older than Carnation condensed milk, or Brillo pads, or adverts saying to go to work on an egg.’

    It sounds like gibberish, what he’s saying. I laugh, too, but I don’t really know what it is I am laughing at. He winks at me and he drinks his beer again and this time he wipes the back of his hand across his mouth with a flourish.

    He clears his throat, as though he might say something important, but he says nothing. He sits back in his chair and he looks away and I do not know what he is thinking or if he is thinking at all.

    Then he leans in again and he nods across the bar and he says, ‘Not so old that I don’t remember.’

    I look to where he has nodded and there’s a girl sitting on her own with a glass of something clear in front of her. He winks at me and he laughs again, and the girl lifts her head to see where the laughter might be.

    ‘Pretty as peaches,’ he says, and he says it out loud so that the girl hears, and he licks his lips and lifts his glass to his mouth again.

    ‘Pretty as plums or greengages.’

    I don’t know what a greengage is, if it’s pretty or not, but I don’t say that I don’t.

    And my father starts in on crisps again and he explains how once they were made with real potatoes and you could tell that they were, and they came with a blue paper bag of salt so you could put on as much or as little as you wanted, and they were called Smiths.

    I ask him if he wants me to get him some crisps, and he shakes his head and mutters under his breath, something about Fiveboys chocolate and Cowan’s penny toffee and sherbet dips with a liquorice straw.

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