I was wrong: yesterday’s response was even more underwhelming than the day before. All I got were a couple of likes and a typo pointed out to me. Still, out of sheer bloody-mindedness more than anything else, here’s chapter 03 of Waterlow Park.
PS I’m writing this on a Logitech iPad Pro keyboard, which is very swish but takes some getting used to. Mistakes are likely.
“Money!” yells dad. “The whole world is trying to take your money!”
Dad’s in a shouty mood. He’s just come back from work and he needs to get things out of his system. He’s always in a shouty mood.
“Do you know I got out of the tube and five people asked me for money?” he continues, although everyone in the room is pretending not to hear him. “There was an idiot selling the Big Issue, an idiot playing an accordion, some idiot woman who looked like a zombie smoking a cigarette, an idiot standing at the bus stop and some idiot who tried to sell me a poxy idiot flower. What’s the world coming to?”
In dad’s world everyone’s an idiot except him. People on the telly are all idiots. All pop singers are idiots. All politicians are idiots. Me and Sofia are definitely idiots. Everyone.
“Calm down Tony,’ says mum. ‘Think of your blood pressure.”
Mum’s a nurse. You can tell by the way she’s always talking about health. Dad teaches people how to use computers for a living. He hates his job. He hates the people he teaches. He says they’re all idiots.
“I am calm Janie!” shouts dad. “It’s just that I’m surrounded by…”
“…Idiots?” says Sofia.
“Yes… That’s right, Sofia,” says dad like he’s never heard the word before. ‘IDIOTS who want your money!”
Mum and dad don’t often have a lot of money. This is probably because whenever they do they go out and get rid of it as quickly as they can. Mum spends it clothes for us but dad mostly drinks and smokes it. Don’t get me wrong – we never go hungry. We both have mobiles and proper clothes and trainers and things. Well not proper – not with proper names like the ones that the kids at school wear. But we’re always aware that the we have to be careful. The last week of the month is always a bit of a struggle for everyone.
“How was school today?” Now mum’s talking, she trying to get dad to stop going on about idiots. “Anything interesting happen?”
Sofia and I look at one another, probably guiltily. There is a silence, which forces both mum and dad to stop talking and stare at us suspiciously.
“I got put in the golden book for spelling,” says Sofia, breaking that silence.
“Very clever darling,’ says mum. “And what about you Stephen?”
“I had a nondescript day.”
“Hark at him and his big words,” says dad.
After dinner mum and dad have a row. Sofia and I are not sure what starts it because any little thing is enough to get dad and mum arguing. We go upstairs and put our fingers in our ears as mum screams at dad and dad shouts at mum. Their voices are loud but muffled enough to hide what they are yelling about. We hear the sound of breaking glass and Sofia starts to shake so I get her to clean her teeth and put her to bed. Then I get into my pyjamas and go to bed myself. I hide under the sheets and read an Avengers comic by torchlight. Later, mum comes into the room and kisses me on the forehead and I pretend to be asleep. She’s been crying. She’s always crying.