As well as buying her a lace tablecloth that she didn’t really need but treasured anyway, I bought my mother, in Rhodes, two decorated Greek plates to hang on the wall of the bungalow in Wrenbury Avenue, as if we’d gone all cosmopolitan.
She could show off to my posh Auntie Doris is what I thought, she’ll like that will our mother, showing off to our posh Auntie Doris, “Oh yes” she’ll say with a haughty air, “those plates were hand painted in Greece you know…
I spent all bloody week walking to and fro between the gift shops in old Rhodes Town trying to find one in her colour scheme, which was difficult as this was the 1970s and our living room didn’t have so much of a colour scheme that you’d put your finger on, not in any manner that you’d recognise these days anyway, for in the 1970s a “colour scheme” meant that you tried to include every colour of the rainbow into your living room, and then some more.
I finally picked two decorated in traditional Greek/Trojan manner, I’m sure you’ve seen the style, sandal clad Greek mythology soldiers fighting off minotaurs and that sort of stuff, the sort of thing that my posh Auntie Doris couldn’t deny had come from Greece, it even had Greek Cyrillic script on it, she’d be impressed would our posh Auntie Doris, impressed and jealous as hell for all she had on her walls was Royal Doulton plates.
I packed them very carefully in newspaper and my dirty laundry, zipped up the suitcase and came home.
“Ooh these are lovely dear” my mother exclaimed when she saw them, “a tablecloth and some plates for the wall”
“I know mother” I replied, “and a fair fortune all of this cost me too”, I’d hardly got change from £2
“Ooh you are good to me dear” she gushed
My father put The Sunday People down in his lap, “I’ll have my dinner off one of them Greek plates”
“No you won’t” said my mother, “these are going on the wall”
“Don’t be bloody daft” he replied, “You don’t hang plates on the wall, they go in the cupboard”
“Not these sort of plates” my mother explained patiently, “these ones hang on the wall, your Doris will be impressed”
“Our Doris will be impressed if she ever gets her nose out of her arse” he muttered
“What was that dear ?”
And so she made my father fetch a hammer and two nails and she hung the two plates on the back wall of the living room, just above the sideboard, they clashed horribly with the carpet and the wallpaper so that was just fine in a 1970s colour co-ordinating style.
“They look lovely dear” is what she said, she was well proud.
And when our posh Auntie Doris came around she was well pissed off for she didn’t have any Greek plates on her wall, Greek plates depicting heroes of the Greek/Trojan wars fighting off minotaurs and stuff, well pissed off she was.
Everyone who came into our house was shown the two Greek plates, “Our Gary brought them back from Greece you know” she’d say proudly, “He paid a small fortune for them too”, as of course I had, why I could have easily just bought a bottle of beer instead, but no, I treated my mother, what a good lad I was.
It must have been a year later when our Ned spotted the fact that one of the Greco/Trojan soldiers on the plates had his dick out.
“That soldier there” he pointed, “he’s got his dick out”
“No he hasn’t” I insisted as I took a closer look.
I took it off the wall for an even closer look, must be a bit of dust or maybe the paint smudged a bit.
No, he had his dick out, definitely.
In fact, they all did.
I put the plate carefully back on the wall and then we both looked at each other and cracked out laughing, “Auntie Doris” is all we said.
It was our secret, for years and years, nearly two decades, and the plates stayed on the wall right up until the week our mother died and a few days afterwards I walked into the bungalow to find two dusty outlined circles on the wall where the plates had been.
“Never liked those plates” my father said, “them soldiers had their dicks out you know, you ought to have been more careful…”