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.15 and out of the house by 8.30.It was a huge change for him: for most of his working life he’d played until the small hours and not got up until lunchtime, but he seemed content to be earning an honest wage for an honest day’s work, earning some ‘walking-around-money’ while my mum forged on as a showbiz feature writer earning the ‘paying-the-bills-money’.If my mum was out working late, he knocked off early to be at home when I got in from school.He used to buy my favourite loaf of bread – a poppy-seeded bloomer – and some freshly sliced garlic sausage from the high street on his way back.I’d burst into the flat and shout ‘Yes!’ if I spied them on the counter – much to his quiet delight – and would eagerly make myself a sandwich, full of stories from school, while he stood smiling at the kitchen window with a cup of tea, his face freckled with paint.The summer I was twelve he was decorating in a flat above a local shop and I was allowed to meet him on a sunny lunchtime during school half-term.We walked from his workplace to Macarthur’s – my favourite hamburger restaurant at the time – for a special treat for ‘no reason in particular’.The doors were folded back and we sat in the window in warm sunshine, sharing crinkle-cut chips and sweetcorn sauce and a slice of blackcurrant cheesecake, until it was time for him to go back to work, and he seemed relaxed and there was light in his green eyes, and I was aware that I was pleased that he had somewhere to go where he was needed.I thought it made him happier.In the evenings my mum came home from work.Sometimes she brought me an autograph or – if I was in luck – an extravagant signed publicity photograph from her latest assignment.I wasn’t choosy; everyone seemed exotic and cosmopolitan.My prized collection included Noel Edmonds (then the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show DJ), Wings (To Ben, love from Linda and hubby, Paul McCartney) and James Galway (To Ben, from The Man With The Golden Flute).My dad’s work benefited from my mum’s contacts too.Interviewing a young rising actor in their new unfurnished flat, or a celebrity in their recently acquired period house, usually threw up a moment for her to drop in a neatly placed recommendation, and within a fortnight my dad was round with his brushes.For several years afterwards, evenings at home in front of the TV were punctuated with my mum saying things like, ‘Oh, look, Tom, Honor Blackman: you made a nice job of her downstairs loo.’At weekends, my dad’s whites were folded up neatly in the hall on top of a pair of paint-flecked moccasins ready for the following week.When he was working and sober he was very approachable, even first thing in the morning.I loved it if he was in a good mood.As a boy I remember standing in the doorway after breakfast on Saturdays and listening to the slow, steady buzz of the electric razor as he shaved while humming jazz phrases to himself in the bathroom mirror.He fastidiously towelled himself down after his shower – in between the toes, the crack of the arse, the inside of the foreskin (‘Always dry the old fella well’) – and then liberally dusted his bollocks and armpits with a cloud of medicated talc, until the bathmats looked as if they had been dusted with icing sugar.He never cared if I was there; he carried on happily, making jokes, passing comments.Dropping his small stainless-steel plate of false front teeth into a glass of effervescing Steradent he used to catch my eye in the mirror and wink, before turning round and saluting with a stupid toothless grin, and exclaiming something like, ‘Aha, Jim-lad! I’ll make ’e walk the plank, that I will!’ He then vigorously brushed his teeth and and his gums and his tongue, and rounded it all off with a furious gargling of mouthwash.It was all done for laughs.With a flourish he then popped his teeth back in, hung up the towel, coughed, and – if the coast was clear – casually strolled across the flat stark naked (‘Oh, Tom!’ from my mum) to get dressed.It was jockey briefs first, and vest tucked in, which struck me as a bit unmanly, and then some exercises that passed for keeping fit [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]