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  • Writer's pictureIan Ayris

The Silver Jubilee - extract from ABIDE WITH ME

The Queen’s fuckin Silver Jubilee wotsit bollocks. Load of fuckin shit.

At school, they got us makin flags and banners and streamers, even writin letters. As if she’s gonna open anything with a fuckin Bethnal Green stamp on it. Me and Keith and Thommo writ we wanted to shit on her throne and eat her dogs. Can’t think what Jimmy Lawson writ, the mad bastard.

Never knew neither. It’s round this time he gets his cock out in maths and they cart him off to the same nut-house Kenny’s banged up in. What are the fuckin chances of that, eh? Same fuckin nut-house.

At home, Mum’s helpin out with the street party stuff and tryin to get Dad off his arse to give her a hand. But Dad ain’t havin none of it. Hates the Royal Family, Dad does, just like Grandad before him. Always made us stand up for the National Anthem, mind, when England was playin. But he reckons that was about supportin the lads, Queen’s got fuck all to do with it.

Mum’s more traditional. Buys all the shit. Jubilee tea towels, stupid fuckin Union Jack hats, mug each for me and Becky.

Come the day, there’s a load of street races goin on outside, you know, egg and spoon, and shit, and a big old party. All right for the littl’uns, but I’m gonna be thirteen in a few months. What do I want with all that shit? Mum makes me do the runnin race, though. Feel like a right bleedin idiot. Come second behind some eight year old with a fucked lip. Mum said I weren’t even tryin. Fuckin right. Gives me a clip round the ear for me efforts and sends me inside to sit with Dad. He ain’t comin out for nothing. No fuckin way.

Sittin in his armchair, he is, can of Skol in one hand and the Union Jack hat on his head what Mum’s made him wear. Starts bangin on about how come the revolution all the bastards’ll be up against the wall. Get rid of the fuckers in one hit, he says. Reckons the Russians had the right idea.

Pissed already, he is. That’s why Mum’s stayin outside. She can’t stand seein him like this no more.

He’s down the boozer most nights, my dad. Just so’s he can get out the house, I reckon. Never really talks much at home, and always got this look on his face like everything’s too much. With Nan and Grandad gone, it’s like he’s turned into a little kid. Always sulkin. Him and Mum rowin all the time, when they can be bothered to say anything to each other at all.

Fuckin ain’t the same no more.

Dad still watches the Hammers of a Saturday, mind, but even that ain’t like it used to be. Used to be like he couldn’t give a fuck about the result, other than the big matches. Always used to say ‘As long as the lads put a fuckin battle up, that’ll do me’. Now it’s like every match is fuckin life and death. If we lose, he don’t talk to no-one for fuckin days. Win, and he’s over the fuckin moon twice over. But none of it’s real, you know.

Becky’s out in the street havin a blindin time. Little flag in her hand, wavin it mad as anything. Bless her. She still asks after Kenny, you know. Really misses him. He’s been gone about eight months come the Jubilee. I think about him all the time.

Street party ain’t finished for hours yet. No way I’m goin out there again. Mum’d only drag me into another fuckin stupid race. So I’m stuck inside, and Dad’s still bangin on about the fuckin revolution, sittin there in his Union Jack hat cos he’s too scared to take it off. Mum’s spent a load of dough we ain’t got on shit for the fuckin Queen’s fuckin Jubilee, and the Queen don’t even fuckin know cos she’s up at Buck fuckin House sippin tea with the rest of the fuckin inbreds. And I’m lookin at the flags outside, all them little flags, and all them people laughin and cheerin, and Kenny’s old girl up at the window tryin to put his curtains up for the hundredth time, and I’m thinkin of Kenny, wonderin which one of us is in the real fuckin nut-house.

Jubilee dies a death soon as it’s over. Couple of months after, I’m havin me tea when it comes on the radio Elvis is dead. Dad’s at work, so least I don’t see his face. Don’t think I coulda stood that. When he comes in, he goes straight in his chair, holdin tight on the arms like it’s the only safe place in the whole fuckin world.

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