Richie McCaffery

When I was a kid, Dad took me
every week on a supermarket trip
to get some whittles in,
(we ate like a family of gannets).
Mam didn't come, she was busy
working two jobs for us.
Dad had lost his a year ago
and he blamed it on this tribe
of grey people he called 'Tories'
or 'toffs' or 'tits'.
He would have tectonic fits
because he was a lawyer
but quit a decade back
to take up surveying
and become a 'scabby bastard'
at Chevington Opencast.
Since then his legal license
had lapsed and he wasn't fit
for the bar, unless it was the one
that opened around noon.
But at Netto's he'd plonk me
on the seat in the trolley,
like a metal sedan chair,
so I could be the midget ruler
of a kingdom of crisps, cans, cakes.
And if I was really sneaky
I could snaffle a little something
like a pack of iced gems
when he was price checking.
We both loved the alcohol aisle,
the spectrum of colours, port's obsidian,
wine's violet, whisky's rose gold
or vodka like water with de-icer in it.
Sometimes he'd let me pick
a different drink for him,
not his signature super-strength:
central heating for tramps. I didn't
understand that phrase but I knew
he drank plenty tinnies a day
until he was pleasantly bevvied.
If I woke and went downstairs,
he'd be zonked in front of the telly
and that sickly looking man
who was running the country
and who thought peas
were 'most agreeable'
might be on, talking in monotone
like a Dalek on Prozac.
Dad would be watching him, hazy
and cock-eyed. He smelled
a bit like pickled onions
when he was drunk.
Every time I went in there
it was an epiphany to him
and he'd pick me up
and hold me like the World Cup
and breathe an incense of esters
into my face as he talked
nice nonsense at me
and sometimes he'd fall asleep
with me tangled in the warm cage
of his heavy arms.

Richard Mcaffery © 2010