Sunday, November 4, 2012

And still it begins, needles and pins

“It’s not just Waitrose vs Tescos you know,” said Pierced Boy, rubbing A&D cream gently onto his new tattoo.
“What’s not?” I asked, filling the kettle. For some reason I’m always the go-to person for Boy’s tattoo after-care. This involves making tea, providing an evening of diverting box-sets, and saying convincingly admiring things about his latest tat. Clearly I had also signed up for listening to his latest theory.
“I’m talking about another Great Lewes Debate,” Boy said. “To add to the where do you shop discussion. Or the are-you-from-Islington or have-you-been-here-since-the-Reformation argument.”
I handed him a cup of tea, but made no other encouraging continue-please signs.
“You only get them for giving blood.”
“I have bled. Look!” He pointed.
“Rather not, thanks.” I averted my eyes and broke out the Rich Teas.
“Where was I? Yes, I’ve realised this is the season for another Great Lewes Debate: Bonfire.”
“Aren’t you away on the fifth as usual?” Despite being born and raised in the environs (Plumpton), Pierced Boy is well-known for his aversion to loud bangs.
“Yes, I’ll be in the centre of London. Nice and quiet.” He put the lid on the A&D. “So, do you want to hear my Bonfire theory?”
Oh god. Still in tattoo after-care mode, I smiled encouragingly.
“I’m glad you asked. Here it is. There are only three sanctioned opinions allowable about Bonfire. One: you love it and you march. Two: you love it and you watch. Three: you hate it. And there are only three reasons why you might hate it, and they are (a) because you misunderstand it (b) because you’re a wuss or (c) because you’re a health-and-safety-political-correctness-gone mad DFL.”
“Wow, you really have been thinking about this.”
“But actually,” he went on, wordlessly indicating that he wished me to direct me the cooling fan I was waving nearer the tattoo, “I believe there are many other different  possible responses. For instance, you could really like and support the idea of Bonfire, wish it well in all its wildness, and yet not necessarily want to be there on the night.”
“Like you.”
“Like me. Fan down a bit please. Or you might just be kind of indifferent towards it.”
“My arm’s aching.”
“Or you might like some aspects of it, such as the fireworks, but not others, such as car alarms going off in the middle of the night. Have you got any frozen peas?”
“You can’t put frozen peas there!”
“Fair enough.” Pierced Boy stood up gingerly. “Do you like the new body art by the way?”
I looked properly for the first time. It was an image of a blue rookie. “Nice – fits very well there.”
He pulled his jeans up, and taking my arm, limped into the sitting room to watch some pain-distracting telly.

Beth Miller, 18/10/12. Published in