OK, I'll admit it. I am an embarrassing parent. I will think nothing of doing the Badger Badger Badger dance in the school playground, or call my kids by their pet names in front of their friends. I also intend to continue this behaviour even when they are adults, and my daughter's wedding day will be marred by the unfortunate placing of a "Kick Me" sticker. You can't take me anywhere.
I would like, at this point, to blame my upbringing for this shocking state of affairs. My dad, bless him, was all Goon Shows and monsters, and I'm only continuing where he left off. But when I look back from the comfort of the twenty-first century, my family was comparitively sane. It's everybody else who had the nutters.
Cookie's parents were not mad. They were just trapped in a time-warp where every day was 1952. THey had a fantastic head-turning 1937 Austin Seven (top speed 35 mph if you got out and pushed), and their house was a monument to post-war optimism and the spirit of Protect and Survive. The radio always seemed to be tuned to "You and Yours" on Radio 4 and they made the best egg and chips in the world, providing the ration book was up to date. Lovely. Not mad.
John's dad was in a barbershop quartet. So was his mum. OK, hardly mad at all, and it kept them off the streets. Except when they practiced in the front garden, which was quite a few notches up the scale of English eccentrics.
Butler's mum was right off the scale. A rarity in 1970s suburbia - a single mum - she was hugely over-protective of her son, and would watch him like a hawk, net curtains twitching, and burst out of the house, armed with a yard-broom, if she thought play wasn't going his way. More than strange, she had a red porch light, and even adults played knock-and-run on her.
All I can say about the Skinners was that they had no net curtains and a pornographic oil-painting above the fire-place until the police made them stop.
Ernie, however, had the most embarrassing mum of them all. We all wanted to go round his house, but it was a rare, rare treat. Ernie's mum, you see, held no truck with the concept of "clothing", and would wonder around the house from morning till night as the Good Lord intended. Even - or especially - when there were people round. Ernie didn't invite many friends back to his house.
I only ever went round there once. Ernie's dad had brought a computer home from work. A huge, lunking PET machine with a processor the size of a washing machine and a green screen with the keyboard attached. It had about 2kB of memory, and you could pay Star Trek on it. It was Ernie's fourteenth birthday, so celebration plus computer meant a whole three mates round his house, and prayers offered that his old lady would cover up.
"You boys want anything to eat?"
"Mn nng mnn gnf"
"Nnn ffff gggg yyyy"
"Hey, Ern - your mum's in the nudd."
He rolled his eyes, just wanting the ordeal over with and led us to the kitchen.
A real, live naked lady. But, being Ernie's mum, it didn't count. There was an ordeal ahead - trying to request food without staring at her large, slightly sagging chest or the Black Forest between her legs.
"I've got some stuff in the freezer," she suggested, bending over and presenting us with a frightening view of her rear end and all the associated flanges.
"Hamburger," said Julian, speaking his mind, and that served him right for staring.
"And you, Scary?" she asked, turning round to present me with a face-full of heaving pink chest, dappled with goosebumps from the freezer's icy blast, nipples you could hang a hat from. I tried my hardest to look at her face.
OhGodDon'tStareAtHerTits OhGodDon'tStareAtHerTits OhGodDon'tStareAtHerTits
"Milk please," I said to the left one.
We were never invited back. Can't think why.