At night, I go and switch the light off in Mini’s room where Dad is now sleeping and whisper goodnight. It’s like I’ve got four children – only one has false teeth on the bedside table. Dad left his usual plastic container for his teeth at my sister’s house so the teeth sit there, uncontained, glistening in the darkness, a vision of pink and white. Actually, they match the colour scheme of Mini’s room very well.
I go to my bedroom and say to husband, “What is it with false teeth? Why are they so…horrid? Their grin seems to follow you around the room.”
He says, “Oh Goodness,” or words to that effect. “I’ve got really bad day at work tomorrow and now I’ve got that image in my head.”
“How about a bit of how’s-your-father then to get your mind off things?” I offer, but he buries his head under his pillow.
I take it that’s a F*** off then.
My husband finds it hard to have sex with Dad in the house. No, that’s very wrong. I mean, he finds it hard to have sex with me, while Dad is staying here. It is difficult having Dad to stay full stop. The plan is he will stay with us in the week and my sisters at the weekend until we decide what to do. We had better decide quickly. Dad has taken over the lounge but his many varied things are seeking lebensraum in the dining room and in the kitchen. His tissues occupy the coffee table. His manky shoes, my husband calls them his ‘trip hazards’, stake a claim in the bathroom, and nobody knows where his walking stick has gone. When it comes to the TV he is a dictator the likes of which the world has never seen before. Who knew Dad was such a ‘Murder, she wrote’ fan? He would sleep through that and ‘CNN’ all day long if he could.
The one good thing though about having Grandad as a permanent fixture in the living room, is that exiled husband is going upstairs to help Ray with his homework more. Now that he’s at high school Ray has got more school work than he’s ever done in his life and he’s walking around with a fixed expression of surprise. Husband helps him with his maths and his geography and it makes me smile to see them pouring over maps. I imagine they are planning where to send Grandad.
The following day, Ray comes home proud that he got a merit point. Husband is thrilled too, telling me that’s his second merit point in a week and he also got top marks in R.E. Husband wants me to high-five him but I don’t. I don’t think he is taking this seriously. My Dad is also very proud (of Ray) although he can’t resist adding that R.E is a stupid subject anyway.
Dad was expelled from school, for writing a treasonous story about the queen on the loo although I doubt that was the only reason, it probably was the prefect excuse. I haven’t told Ray this story: I don’t want Ray thinking being a dumb-arse is a good idea. I don’t quite trust Dad to sound penitent enough about it.
On Friday, Ray comes home and announces that he has been made a school councilor.
“Welcome to the gravy train,” husband says incomprehensibly.
I ask Ray what being school councilor means and he shrugs. “I have to wear a badge.”
“A badge, eh! What does it say?”
Husband laughs. “Does it say, ‘Bully me’?” I tell him shush and I tell him that again later when he says, “Look, isn’t there a way we can expel your Dad too?”
I feel really bad but like husband, I would like our living room back. I am impatient for the weekend. At nine o’clock, when Jessica has solved the latest mystery, I say to Dad, “It’s bed time.”
He says gloomily, “I won’t be able to sleep but then I’m in your way, aren’t I?”
I say, “Oh, of course not” and “It’s ok, don’t worry!”
I expect him to say actually, he will go up, but instead he asks for the remote control. It’s time for CNN. My husband disappears, scowling.
Dad isn’t tired until long past ten. I fuss him up the stairs, then hurry to the bedrooms. I whisper my goodnights, trying to avoid meeting the eyes of the pearly teeth. Husband has been hiding out in our bed for the last hour so I say to him in my most seductive voice, “Do you want to earn another merit point tonight?”
I’m not sure if he says, ‘at the weekend’, or ‘at worlds end’, and I’m going to ask him to clarify but I have a sudden vision of those pearly gnashers on Mini’s bedside table and I too am not that interested anymore.