Saturday, 2 August 2014

Kids' Stuff

So it’s late and the kids have been sent to bed but on these hot and airless summer nights getting to sleep is hard. On the top bunk Carl, the bigger brother, all of seven years old is whispering loudly to Martin. From downstairs, their mother’s bat-like ears have alerted her to the boys’ chatter “Don’t make me come up there!” she yells and the boys quieten down. But not for long.

“Pssst!” hisses Carl and Martin has no other option but to respond to his leader. Martin does everything Carl tells him, follows him anywhere. They start to whisper again and this time their chatter goes unheard as downstairs it is well past wine o’clock and the adults are winding down in the soothing arms of of Bacchus. Carl regales Martin with tales of the mysterious grown-up world of school. This is Martin’s last summer before school-proper and he is in thrall to Carl’s stories of playground derring-do.

Soon the talk turns to practical matters; the making of catapults, the curing of conkers and the best way to stir up a cow pat with a stick. Boy stuff. Martin, eager for a taste of the future, urges Carl to tell him more. Eventually Carl says, “Have you ever heard of swearing?” and responds to Martin’s bewilderment by explaining how, in that mysterious outside world the English language takes on an exciting, exotic flavour by the simple deployment of a few forbidden words. Starting with ‘bum’ and ‘shit’ and ‘crap’ and ‘bollocks’ Carl leads Martin down the path to profanity and indoctrinates him in the ancient ritual pre-martial art of Sweary Kid, also known as Ju-bitch-ju.

They agree that, from tomorrow, they will together embark on this wondrous lexicographical adventure and on that pact settle down to dream of the linguistic road less trodden. Before they know it they are being roused from slumber by their slightly hung-over mother and hurried out of their jim-jams and into day clothes. As they descend the stairs Martin nudges Carl, who giggles, recalling their plan. Carl, being the eldest, has to lead the way.

“What would you like for breakfast?” asks Mum, to which Carl, barely stifling a chuckle, draws himself up to his full four-foot three and loudly declares, “I think I’ll go for some cornflakes, motherfucker!” His grin is rapidly and literally wiped from his face by the thunderstruck face and unerringly accurate backhand of his unamused mother. As Carl puckers up and his lower lip starts to tremble she turns to the shocked figure of wee Carl. “And how about you?” she demands.

Kids, eh?

Martin thinks quickly and seeing the tears beginning to spring from Carl’s hot eyes, replies, “Well, it’s certainly not going to be fucking cornflakes!” 

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