Who’s Eric Then, Mal?

It’s 7.40 pm on 15th February as I commence this monologue. I sit alone in my parents living room, perspiring from incalescence produced by the gas fire. I should really turn it off, but I want to maintain the room temperature of a Swedish sauna so my mum and dad aren’t in discomfort on their return.

To be honest, my mum hasn’t far to return as she’s only sat in the dining room watching soap operas. Tired of the on going real life dramas in chez Strachan (junior and senior), she takes a daily escape into the fictional world of fewer hospital visits and less drama.

My dad has a greater distance to return. Currently in situ at the local community centre, he’s attending the bowling club’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).

It’s good to see my old man get out and about after his recent draining radiotherapy. Perhaps the reason my mum has got it so unbearably hot in here was to get him out of the house. You should never under-estimate the controlling wiles of the fairer sex.

I’m stopping at my mum and dad’s tonight as tomorrow morning I’m running my pater to see his oncologist at St James’ Hospital.

Meanwhile, the living room grows ever warmer. At the far side of the room is a wall cabinet predominantly displaying crystal glasses and ornaments, along with framed pictures of the family

Through a heat haze, I’m sure I can see beads of perspiration on the brows of their grandkids, as they survey the room from their photographs. Hallucinating through the arid conditions, I’m just witnessed an oasis and my son (in his graduation picture perched on the cabinet) ask me to “Bloody hell dad, turn that flipping gas fire off!….. I’m sweating cobs here!”

My dad has arrived home after his soiree at the community centre. His first words as he saunters into the room being “Can you turn that fire up for me, Gary? …… It’s bloody freezing in here!”

As requested, I increased the heat being distributed by the fire, resulting in my parent’s camel Ernie leaving the living room through fears of heat exhaustion. As Ernie left through the door into the kitchen, it coincided with my mater entered from the dining room.

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“How did the AGM go, Mal?” she questioned her recently returned husband.

“Alright!” responded her undemonstrative spouse, still trying to warm up in his armchair.

“Did Eric stay on as club secretary?” my mum (Maggie) inquired further.

“Who’s Eric?!” replied my puzzled pater, in an uncommonly long sentence for him.

“Elsie’s husband Eric…… The ones who live on Creosote Avenue!” Maggie attempted to clarify as she took a seat on the sofa.

“Elsie’s husband is called Arnold!” Mally responded, with one eye on Sky Sports News on TV.

“No not that Elsie!….. Big Elsie with the blue rinse!…… Stop watching the telly, I’m talking to you, Malcolm!” my mum continued.

“Geraldine is the one with the blue rinse… She’s married to Ted!” my bemused father countered.

“Is Ted that really ignorant bleeder?” questioned my mum further, not willing to let the conversation drop and Mally watch Sky Sports News in peace.

“I don’t find him ignorant….. He’s always ok with me.” the head of the household proffered.

“Who is Eric then, Mal?” Mrs Strachan senior inquired, much to Mr Strachan senior’s chagrin.

“I’ve no idea!…… You brought the name up!” my puzzled old man informed his tenacious spouse.

“Is he the club treasurer?” Maggie queried doggedly.

“There isn’t anyone called Eric at the bowls club, love!” Mal countered frustratedly, after once again having to take his gaze from the sports new program.

“I must be mistaking him for Ted, then.” My mum at last conceded, much to her hubby’s relief.

“It appears so.” Malcolm countered, looking slightly happier now it appeared this conversation was close to concluding.

“No wonder Ted ignores me, I’ve been calling him bleeding Eric for the last two years!” Maggie mumbled, before sheepishly heading towards the kitchen door.

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