Mirth and Woe: Embarrassment
So, there we were, seated in the local Wimpy restaurant, not very long ago, having what we call 'a bit of a family outing'.
To be fair, it's a burger and a trip to the cinema that's taking fifty quid out of my bank account, but in the words of the entire cast of EastEnders: "It's famleee, innit?" and a treat's a treat.
We discuss friends, school, work and our future plans. Scaryduck Junior, however has other things weighing on his mind.
That particular Friday was one of the most traumatic of his eleven years on this Earth. His class had done sex education, which had featured - horrors - pictures of people with no clothes on, and there was no way on God's Earth he was going to do that, not while there are still rare Yu-Gi-Oh! cards to be collected.
All credit to the educational system - some of what he had been taught had gone into his head and lodged there - for the boy had a question. A question he would ask at the top of his voice in a restaurant backed to the gills with old ladies enjoying a nice tea-cake, and other families enjoying an evening out in much the way we were:
"No, really. What's wanking? And are you a wanker?"
Honestly. You can't take him anywhere. Can't think where he gets it from.
Cue Scooby Doo-type flashback to the mid 1970s, because this public embarrassment is simply a matter of karma catching up on me.
So, there we were, 1977, the year of Star Wars, and my parents are holding a jolly little soiree in which a number of adult friends have come round for an evening of drinks and nibbles.
Taking advantage of this, my younger brother and I are lying on the living room floor, on a mission.
And our mission, like us, is a simple one. We are trying to find out what colour all the lady's knickers are.
"They're RED. Now go to your room!"
Ah, Dr Freud would have had a field day.
Alas, even after this particularly woeful upset to our plans, things were to go rapidly downhill from there.
As you'd expect, with a houseful of guests, the enforcement of the 'Now get to your room and stay there' rule was not vigorously enforced. In fact, we stayed in our rooms for a whole ten minutes, before sneaking down once again for a right old mingle.
Ok. So it wasn't actual mingling, to be honest.
It was more along the lines of prowling the kitchen, sitting room, hall, dining room and back garden and swiping any drink left lying around for more than five seconds and necking the lot.
Good God, it was a sophisticated evening. They even had a Party Seven on the go, which, with the help of a straw, we reduced to a Party Five.
"Bosoms!" we shouted, more than a little excited at the way the whole evening was going.
And: "Turds!", generously letting the dog have some of our ill-gotten gains.
And, of course, our mot de jour: "Buggeration!", and buggered we would be if we were caught.
All this wearing nothing but my pyjama bottoms of a certain vintage, in which the elastic in the waistband have given up being stretchy months and months ago.
And like the last day of British rule in India, down they came like the governor-general's Union Flag.
"I say, Audrey," said Bill from over the road, "There's a naked boy!"
"And... and... he appears to be extremely drunk."
"Yes. Just like that extremely drunk-looking beagle."
That was probably the gist of the conversation. I was a bit out of things at the time, you understand.
There was one thing I do remember with full technicolor clarity from that evening, however:
All over my mother's lovely hand-made carpet, the work of months with a hook-and-eye wossname and millions of very short pieces of wool.
Now with added boy-vomit.
And added dog vomit.
"SHRIEEEEEK!" said my mother (her actual words), closely followed by "GET TO YOUR ROOM!" and "GET SOME CLOTHES ON!"
I went, hang-dog, to my room, promises of 'what-for' ringing in my ears over the dreadful social embarrassment I had caused in front of people with particularly serious facial hair.
At least I thought I had made it to my bedroom. In my drunken fug, I took myself to a lovely, warm pile of coats on my parents' bed, and yodelling manfully, I topped the mountain with a luxurious Watneys-flavoured snow-cap.
Were they in for a surprise come kicking-out time.
You can't take me anywhere. You couldn't even trust me in my own home.
"Dad - what's wanking?"
After my little demonstration, I have been barred from all Wimpy Bars for life.