May 20: skittles

I remember I would have been about eight and for some inexplicable reason over a few day period a fat boy from my class at school started coming round to my house to play with me. Now I didn’t want to play with this boy, not just because he was fat, but he had nothing to do with me. I didn’t mix with him at school; he didn’t like football; he didn’t like Val Doonican. What could he possible have to do with me? But for some reason there he was at my front door. Now, as I was a nice eight year old (you have probably gathered this) I accepted to be drawn away from Top of the Pops or The Avengers with Diana Rigg and go out with him into our little patch of front garden. But what to do with him? We couldn’t play football, which was my default solution to social visits. And then I remembered some old plastic skittles we had in the shed. I got them out and lined them up and like two four year olds we bowled them down and set them up, bowled them down and set them up. It was deadly. And then a friend of my brother walked by and said “Fatty and Thinny!” over the garden fence. I remember thinking How did I get into this position? My feelings about the fat boy were only reaffirmed when he started asking me if I would ask my mum for biscuits. We got some but then he started wanting me to ask for more and I said no and he went and talked to my mum direct and asked for more biscuits and she shouted at him. In the end, the fat boy went home and I went back to Top of the Pops or The Avengers with Diana Rigg. I probably said to my mum that I wouldn’t be answering the door to that fat boy again and because of the biscuits she probably agreed to go along with any excuses I wanted to make up. It is from that time that I date my present carefulness in the choosing of companionship and my wariness of social committment.

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