Verging On The Embarrassing (a humorous incident)


"Who's your wife?" The eight year old girls comment stalled me for a few

moments as I walked with her to the football pitch.

"Err," I was stalling for time. I'd come to this drumming workshop with my

friend, Rhiannon.

"I don't have a wife" I replied nervously looking back to the security of

the faded elegance of Tottenham Court House.

"So you are a virgin."

"Well no, not quite." I was stumbling my words as my mind stumbled between

her innocence, my lack of innocence and my male pride.

"Do you have children?" she enquired confidently filling the pauses in the



"Have you ever been married?"


"So you are a virgin then." I looked around for help. Rhiannon was far away

on the veranda and the girls father was an equal distance.

"I think you should ask your Daddy what that word means."

"I did, last night," she added "and that's what he told me." As she ran

towards a football she called "You are a virgin."


Nick and the Moles


My friend Nick hates moles. Not a case of a mild dislike, or a comical banter but a deep hatred born out of disrupted lawns, the setting of traps and the smoothing of mountains.


The word "bastards" often appears in the same sentence containing the word "moles" as if some ancient grammatical rule were being obeyed. Not that the Mr Green's vocabulary is colourful, it seldom is. But it is just that the utterance of the word, which I can barely bring myself to type again, reduces the man as if "Clueso" had been said to Chief Inspector Drefuss or "Scargil" to Thatcher.


But the combination of Moles and Bastards are not the only Nickisms. The fellow has a ready supply of little gems such as "no chance matey, really thick custard, paa (when losing an argument) and wagon (when referring to a motor car)."


You'd have thought that with his ways Nick would remain single but he shocked us all when Kas walked into his life. A wedding was planned, no best man was selected and no stag night was organised.


Greg, a mutual friend, and I were having none of this and set about a do and only convinced Nick of its merits when we promised no strippers and his total security.


But we did make a list of Nickisms, a collection of his sayings. A visit to the loo, or the bar, would bring the list out of hiding. A little glance, a tick here, or there, a rehearsal to steer the next conversations. "Moles, bastards" was a particular treasure to the evenings collection, the one we had most hoped for.


Months later, the game of 'Nick bingo' forgiven, I emailed Greg.

"Can't help but notice April 1st is on a Sunday. How about we plant some plastic moles on Nick's front lawn on the Saturday night?"

Seconds later and my PC beeped.

"How about a five foot high paper mashie version?"


So the plan was hatched, the mole was built and the evening of March 31st had us planting our masterpiece as returnees from a local pub do a double take.


April 1st, ten AM and my caller display is showing Nick's number. I answer.

"Hi Nick"

"Hi Steve, how are you?"

"Oh fine, nice morning. Been outside yet?"

"No. I have not been outside yet. I've been ill."

"I'm sorry to hear that" I replied.

"I only got out of hospital on Friday."

"Oh no, nothing serious I hope."

"I had to have a large mole removed."





Myself, Mum, Dad and my sister Ali are being visited by my Dad’s parents. Ali and I are in our early twenties, the grandparents in their seventies. As ever grampy has an opinion on every matter. He always had back then and a common thread weaved through each – they were all ill thought out, invented on the spur of the moment to either ridicule his opponent or to boast some hitherto unannounced knowledge.


It was a shame; he was a clever, able and helpful man. A war hero too, though strangely he kept that to himself and only in his later life did we discover that he had been awarded the DSM for saving the lives of the entire crew of his submarine.


This later life brought a mellowing; he became good company though still always prone to vocal gaffs. By this time we’d learned to answer back, not just to hear his words, know he was talking nonsense and follow the familiar pattern of quiet acceptance. I think he really wanted somebody to spar with, but he’d caught us too young back then.


Back then brings me back to the story. The visit is following a well trodden pattern, worn-out actors following a tired script. Mum starts to bemoan her expanding waistline.

“Have you got a vibrator?” asks Grampy. Grampy who, having every conceivable object in their sprawling home, is a master of turning up with a needed object. So the initial fear is that the offer will be followed by “I’ve got one in the top loft that you can have.” Of course I know what he means, he’s referring to one of those 1960s exercise machines where you stand and a vibrating belt is placed around your rear. The idea is to tone fat and muscles. I look at my sister, she does not realise a second meaning. There’s a look of horror on her face. I look at Mum and Dad, one of us is about to crack.

“Excuse me,” I say and hurriedly leave the room. My pace akin to somebody realising they are about to be sick.


I lay on my bed, crying through laughter. It’s a deep belly laugh convulsing through my body. I’m still young, I share a house with mates and laughter is common. I can’t return downstairs, I can’t even make it to my bedroom door. I’m still there forty five minutes later when I hear my grandparents getting set to leave. I think Ali’s shock, Mum and Dad trying to hold it together has made Gran realise that there’s been a change in mood and perhaps an early departure would be sensible. Gran, more likely a reader of Woman’s Realm than Cosmopolitan, does not realise why.


“Bye Steve,” they call up the stairs in a ‘what are you doing up there’ kind of way. The giggles are deep - I can just manage to return the ‘bye’ whilst stuffing a hankie into my mouth.


I hear their car start, the front door close and I venture down. Mum and Dad collapse laughing, Ali still looks on with shock until we explain what he truly meant.


Jumping forward twenty years, Grampy lived to a fine old age, and by now he is mellowed and good fun and enjoys banter. He’s stood in their kitchen, steadying his aged frame against the counter.

“You need a crutch, Dad” says his daughter in law, Sue.

“I don’t have one. Apart from the one between my legs,” he replies

“Grandfather that is your crotch, your crotch,” I say.

We all cry laughing.


© Steve Smith
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