Sunday, 16 September 2007

On birthday presents and setting a good example to your son (happy birthday Charlie)

I nagged my parents for a torch:
- I'd love a torch, oh go on, one of those ones with
the black rubber round them, go on, go on...
It was no good. I wasn't getting anywhere. Then came
my birthday. On the table was a big box. In the box, a
torch. My dad took it out of the box:
- You see that torch, he says, it's waterproof. That is a
waterproof torch.
So that night I got into the bath and went underwater
swimming with it: breathe in, under the water, switch on,
search for shipwrecks and treasure. Up, breathe, under
again, exploring the ocean floor. Then the torch went out.
I shook it and banged it but it wouldn't go. I couldn't
get it to go again. My birthday torch. So I got out the
bath, dried myself off, put on my pyjamas and went
into the kitchen.
- The - er - torch won't work. 'S broken.
- And my dad says, What fo you mean, 'It's broken'? It
couldn't have just broken. How did it break?
- I dunno it just went off.
- I don't believe it. You ask him a simple question and
you never get a simple answer. You must have been
doing something with it.
- No, no, no, it just went off.
- Just try telling the truth, will you? How did it break?
- I was underwater swimming with it.
- Are you mad? When I said this torch is waterproof, I
meant it keeps the rain off. I didn't mean you could go
bloody deep-sea diving with it. Ruined. Completely
ruined. For weeks and weeks he nags us stupid that he
wants one of these waterproof torches and the first thing
he does is wreck it. How long did it last? Two minutes?
Three minutes? These things cost money, you know.
At the weekend, he says,
- We're going into Harrow to take the torch back.
We walk into the shop, my dad goes up to the man at the
counter and says,
- You see this torch. I bought it from you a couple of weeks
ago. It's broken.
So the man picks it up.
- It couldn't have just broken, says the man, how did
it break?
- And my dad says, I dunno, it just went off.
- Come on, says the man, these torches don't just
break down. You must have been doing something with it.
- So I said, Well actually, I was in the -
And I got a kick in the ankle from my dad.
- I was in the - er - oh yeah - the kitchen and it went off.
So the man said he would take it out the back to show
Len. He came back in a few minutes and said that Len
couldn't get it to work either.
- You'll have to have a new one, he says.
- I should think so too, says my dad. Thank YOU!
Outside the shop, my dad says to me,
- What's the matter with you? You were going to tell him
all about your underwater swimming fandango, weren't you?
Are you crazy?

- Michael Rosen

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