Friday, February 18, 2011

Shut That Door!

The Communist was always good in a crisis. Calm and efficient. However, he was much less good in a non-crisis. Small things would infuriate him. One of these was the shutting - - or non-shutting - of the lounge door.

He would come home from his chemist shop in York and invariably eat his tea at a trolley in front of the television. (Don't get started on tea being a drink. It's "tea"that's the evening meal in Yorkshire - - forget any of that "dinner" nonsense. "Dinnertime" is when poshos have "lunch". Glad we've got that sorted.)

There would be a meat-and-two-veg kind of meal, cooked by my Mum, and then some Pud, such as Fruit with Pink Splonge. I think the commercial name is "Angel Delight" or "Instant Whip" but in our house it was Pink Splonge, although sometimes, confusingly, it would be brown Pink Splonge or yellow Pink Splonge. Ahhh - - the Seventies were E-Number Heaven.

After the Pud would be Hardboard Biscuits, as the Communist called them, sometimes with a bit of cheese. "Hardboard Biscuits" was a generic name for any kind of supposedly healthy, Ryvita-like crackers that you could put cheese on.

Whilst all this was happening, there'd probably be news on television - the Communist liked any kind of news, especially the kind that would make him shout at the television.

And my brother Michael and I would go in and out of the lounge, fetching things and carrying things and doing our homework and just generally going in and out in that purposeless way that children and teenagers do.

More often than not, we would fail to close the door properly and off we'd go down the corridor with the Communist's voice ringing out behind us with instructions about the door and lively commentary on the news. "Shut the door! Can you hear me? Call himself a Prime Minister? How dare he! What about the workers, eh? CAN YOU HEAR ME? SHUT THE DOOR!"

This kind of thing didn't happen often. No more than ten times every evening for a decade or so.

When the Communist, however, shut a door it stayed shut, sometimes for ever. If it didn't fall off its hinges with the force of the shutting, it would embody the essence of Shutness.

Of course, the Communist had been a miner during the war and was incredibly strong. And he didn't know the difference between "to shut" and "to slam with all the force at your disposal."

In the Sixties we had a new car - a Cortina Shooting Brake. Green and cream, it was. It was like an early form of hatchback with a really big back door that opened very high. My mother couldn't reach to close it.

The Communist, however, could close it. And we would forget. We'd all be in the car ready to go on holiday, chatting excitedly, and then the Communist would lock the house and come out to the car and, with no announcement of intentions, hurl the boot shut with the force of a large metor hitting the Earth.

After a few days' holiday and a bit of counselling we'd begin to get over the shock - - - and then we'd forget all about it until it was time to set off home again and the whole thing would be repeated.

"Have you ever had a burst eardrum?" asked the nurse, some years later. "Almost certainly," I replied, "in fact probably twice every time we went on holiday."


A few months ago the lock on the back door broke and was replaced with a whole new catch and lock which requires more effort in its shutting.

Nearly everyone who leaves the house pulls it to, and thinks they've shut it, and the only indication that they haven't is of a cruel blast of wind, directly from the Siberian Steppes, howling through the house.

I try to resist but just occasionally I find the words brimming up and bursting forth. "SHUT THE DOOR! WHY CAN'T YOU SHUT THE DOOR? JUST SHUT IT! THE DOOR! IT'S OPEN! SHUT THE FLAMING DOOR, CAN'T YOU? NOW!"

I am, in many ways, my father's daughter.


Blogger Jennyta said...

Sounds rather like my house in my youth, Daphne. Do you think men get training in this when they're growing up?

7:18 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

In our house oblique questions were asked at times like that, such as:

"Were you born in a barn?"

If I stood in front of the telly, the inquiry was:

"Was your mother made of glass?"

Had to be quick on my feet, I did, to figure out what was going on.

7:43 pm  
Blogger Silverback said...

In many ways you may be your father's daughter, Daffy, but not when it comes to closing tailgates. You'd have had major problems closing the top half of the twin "doors" we had in the farm back home.
I suspect you'd just have walked in under it !

8:17 pm  
Blogger Ailbhe said...

We had "Were you born in a palace with swinging doors?" and "You'd make a better door nor a winda."

9:32 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

You never said that your dad's real name was Larry Grayson!

1:47 am  
Blogger JeannetteLS said...

"He would come home from his chemist shop in York and invariably eat his tea at a trolley in front of the television. (Don't get started on tea being a drink. It's "tea"that's the evening meal in Yorkshire - - forget any of that "dinner" nonsense. "Dinnertime" is when poshos have "lunch". Glad we've got that sorted.)"

Education for a Yankee. Thank you. BUt, more important, This was marvelous. We did not shout particularly. Although, on my wedding day, I was coming down the stairs of my family home, in my body cast and bright red dress. Pacelbel's Canon was playing on the tape deck (1982). My father suddenly slammed OPEN the front door and raged out onto the lawn, facing left toward the boombox blasting neighbors and screamed in, as I called it, his "basso buffoono", "Shut UP, Gawddammit! There's a WEDDING GOING ON!"

He then came back in humming.

You are a wonderful writer, I think. ANd I suspect a touch over the edge, round the bend, one hair shy of a wig, etc. But this just means I have to follow your blog and treasure what you write.

4:11 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Jennyta - I'm glad our house wasn't the only one!
Bob - I've never heard "Was your mother made of glass?" before - love it!
Silverback - - you saying I'm short? - -oh, well, now you mention it - - !
Ailbhe - I've never heard either of those - love 'em!
YP - I wondered if anyone would notice the Mr Grayson quote!
JeanetteLS - thank you for the compliments. Me? Eccentric? - - er - - never! Oh, well, perhaps - - !

4:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Caramel Instant Whip - you took me straight back to being 6 years old again. Thank you Daphne.
(Angel Delight, introduced some time later, was not quite so 'honest' as Instant Whip.)

3:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Put wood in't hole" was another one - not sure if that was the red or white roses side of the Pennines tho'.

9:30 pm  

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