Here we continue the adventures of Puma in the serialisation of my novel Puma Dean. Chapter One can be found here: Puma Dean, Chapter One
It was Saturday afternoon and we’d just watched the football results come in on Final Score. Dad liked football and always futilely tried to persuade me to share his interest. I told him time after time that I thought football, along with all major spectator sports, was stupid and a waste of time. Even the good old days of psychopathic neo-nazis in West London trying to skin opposition supporters alive in scruffy Irish boozers had disappeared from the game.
This particular Saturday Dad was being quiet about football though as his beloved Port Vale had lost to some London team who were fighting relegation, basically ending their chances of getting to the play-offs.
Anyway, as was tradition on a Saturday tea-time my dad and me were driving to the chip shop up on Manley Hill, past the new houses and next to the Hope and Anchor pub. There was a chip shop much closer to our house but my dad said the fish were too small there and the sausage-in-batters tasted of cat shit.
I didn’t care either way, I just had chips with loads of salt and half of my dads pie lid. Granddad once poured some vinegar into an open wound on my arm after a bike accident so I couldn’t stand the stuff.
Just salt for me please.
I think this was a tradition which manifested itself in many households in the area as the chip shop was pretty busy. The owner had decided the best way to train some thick school leaver would be to make them serve at the busiest time of the week so we waited in the line watching his laughable attempts at wrapping a saveloy in paper without it slopping out of the bottom again.
‘Want to come out on the lorry with us next week Puma while it’s half-term?’
My dad worked for a haulage company and occasionally would be able to take me along with him to a drop. Some of the guys he delivered to would take me around their factory or depot which was great. Most times I managed to steal some pretty cool stuff.
‘Should be able to take you up to Barlows on Thursday. My mate John says it’s ok, the security everywhere is tighter these days, that’s why I can’t take you out as much but John’s a good bloke so he says bring you along. They build machinery for car production lines so there’s a really cool factory there which he says he’ll take you round while I drop the delivery off’
Sweet. Imagine the swag.
‘Brilliant dad, yeah that’ll be great.’
‘Well don’t get your hopes up just yet but it should be good.’
We’d finally made it to the front of the queue and dad made the order; two large chips, one normal chips, one steak and kidney pie, one cod and one mushy peas in a pot. Isaac Newton behind the counter recounted the order in his head, asked what it was again and started dishing up the chips.
Dad looked at me and did a spaz-tongue-in-cheek thing and I laughed. I caught the chip-serving idiots face through the fish compartment and he gave me a look. So I did a spaz-tongue-in-cheek thing at him so he looked away and carried on scraping the chips into the paper.
‘Salt and vinegar on your chips?’
We apply our own at home thank you very much.
Dad told him which fish he wanted and was adamant about getting the freshly battered big one from the front even though he was forcibly offered two substandard options beforehand.
My dad knows which side his fish is battered.
The whole thing came to nearly a tenner and dad had a moan to himself about inflating prices, thanked the idiot, handed me the bag and we headed back to the car.
In my opinion there aren’t many better things in life than the all-encompassing aroma of fish and chips in an enclosed car when you’re really hungry.
We drove back to the house listening to House of the Rising Sun on dads awful tape player and as we pulled into the drive my hunger was at its peak. I ran into the house, happy to see mum had got her arse in gear and buttered up some bread, dumped the bag of chips onto the kitchen table and ran in the front room, slapped a cushion on my lap and waited for the feast.
The plate of bread came first, followed by the red sauce and salt. A couple of minutes later and the chips arrived along with a full pie lid.
A full pie lid!
‘Thought you’d want the whole lid today Puma, you look hungry.’
Dad is great.
We sat there eating while watching Open All Hours on TV. It was the episode where the shopkeeper puts a cold sausage on Granvilles plate while he’s not looking and it scares him. Dad seems to like it though.
I had a glass of Lemonade brought to me, Dad was drinking a can of Carling and mum seemed to have a fresh glass of Gin.
‘What are you planning to do next week with your time off Puma?’
I had decided to hunt squirrels on Monday, make some pipe bombs with hydrochloric acid glass tubes inside on Tuesday, on Wednesday replace the rubber on my catapult with industrial strength stuff I’d nicked from one of dads mates factories and test it on local cats, go out with dad on Thursday and steal some car-making equipment, go to the bookies with granddad on Friday and probably take some drugs with him then perhaps play some computer and go cat shooting with the .22 at the weekend.
‘Nothing much, just play on my computer and see some friends probably.’
‘Oh, you should get out more, why you go and play football with Lee and that lot?’
‘Lee’s a cock-muncher mum.’
Dad turned to mum mid-sentence.
‘It’s my dad, he’s such a foul-mouthed sod sometimes. I’ll have another word with him.’
Yep, and he’ll tell you to fuck off and mind your own fucking business.
Like he does every time you talk to him.
‘I wish your dad would go in a home, it’s not right him living in that shed.’
‘He’s alright. Better than him being in here. Isn’t that right Puma, you don’t want to share your room with Granddad do you?’
‘No, he stinks.’
‘Oh well, I guess he does. Bit harsh though Puma, he is your Granddad after all.’
I carried on eating my salt-covered chips, scraped off a filthy tube of escaped kidney from my lid and carried on watching the TV. But mum wouldn’t let it go.
‘Anyway, even if you don’t like Lee, you should make more friends Puma. You spend more time with your Granddad than you do with anyone your own age. We bought you that bike for your birthday that you never use.’
‘It’s pink, it’s a girls bike, I told you that, I’m not riding around on a girls bike. I thought you wanted me to have friends, not boyfriends.’
‘Oh Puma really.’
Mum went red and got up to get another Gordons. I shouted to her as she left the room.
‘MUM, GET ME SOME MORE LEMONADE’
My home. My castle.