I had looked forward to it all week and as the day approached I grew more and more excited. Whilst playing in the back garden on Sunday I had watched my mum making cheese and ham pieces and then carefully wrapping tin foil around the slabs of white bread with their thick brown crusts before storing them in the fridge to keep fresh overnight. On seeing my youthful eyes peering through the open kitchen door, she turned around and said ‘jist you keep your mauket haunds aff them, they’re for the morra’ before placing a bottle of ginger, a couple of plastic cups, paper tissues and a dish towel into her tired looking woven message bag. Only one more sleep and we were off on a day’s jaunt to Seamills with Sandy’s Buses.
I didn’t have much of a sleep, mind you I seldom did. The three of us, my two brothers and me shared the same double bed and spent eight hours a night avoiding any physical contact between each other whilst keeping clear of the horsehair and springs which protruded from various parts of the urine stained mattress. We arose to a beautiful Easter Monday morning with the sun shining in through the double bedroom window which led into farm fields, woods and in the distance the sea and then onto the whole great big world that loomed in the distance waiting to be explored. That said he hadn’t actually done much exploring beyond the fields and the woods. The lack of a family car and local buses meant that his exploring was limited by how far he could walk but unlimited by his imagination which could turn those fields and trees to the hot desert plains of the USA’s Wild West or the humid jungles of Burma, with Japanese soldiers hiding behind every tree. But today was going to be different; he was going to travel miles and miles to the coast, where untold adventures waited to be discovered among the sand dunes.
I dressed in a horizontally striped, brown and white t-shirt, canvas coloured shorts and my sandshoes and as I looked at the place where the mirror used to be, I didn’t see a peelly wally, freckled faced, skinny, four foot ten, 11 year old boy but instead I saw Erik the Red, a man mountain with long red hair and a flame-coloured beard standing proudly in his suit of armour with a shield in one hand and a broadsword in the other, ready to discover new lands. Transformed for one day from the library book where he usually existed, this would be Eric’s Great Escapade to the Ayrshire Coast.
I ran down the stairs and joined my brothers in the living room, the three of us buzzing with excitement as our mother beavered away in the kitchen getting ready for the day’s expedition. She then handed us all our cosy little coats before shouting up the stairs to our father. “Are you ready yet?”
“I’m not going!” came the gruff reply, echoing its way down the narrow staircase and exploding into our small living room. Our three little heads dropped immediately as the response burst our hopes and dreams for the day.
“Get your lazy arse doon these stairs” our mother retorted.
“F*ck off!” he replied.
The house fell silent. What were we to do? Sandy’s Bus left from the other end of town, which was about a two-mile walk from our house. Could our mother tramp through the town carrying our bags whilst keeping an eye on the three of us excited young lads? I hoped so, it wouldn’t be fair on her after all the hard work she had done in getting us all ready for the day if ‘he’ was allowed to spoil it for us all.
But he had the power to do just that and he knew it. “Don’t f*cking come then!” I thought to myself “you’ll only spoil it, as usual, anyway.”
If I could have been Erik the Red, even just for a moment, I would have stormed up those stairs with my Viking sword in my hand, burst through my father’s bedroom door and slain the miserable bastard.
Sadly I could not.