I was going to tell you a bit more about Johnny Carver, wasn’t I? He’s been on my mind lately because he’s got all my money, and I left him with instructions to sell the market. Given that there’s a war going on, and everything seems to be spiralling towards a pit of despair, I’ve been feeling quite positive for once. Optimistic even. I’ve been trying to think about when it was that I first started calling him Eggo. I think it must have been that time at the rugby club, when I’d just returned home, and he was holding court on one of his weekend breaks. I remember, he was wearing a casual suit with those carrot-leg trousers that are deliberately too small and stop on your ankles. They make men of a certain age look like a hard-boiled egg on a cocktail stick. I’m pretty sure that’s when I first began to formulate my ideas about killing him, too.
I wonder if the eggy tight suit-brogues’n’beard look is still a thing back home, or if they’ve moved on to something new? I imagine it has, because twats like him had become indistinguishable from people who bought the same big brands for bargain prices in supermarkets. Some creative type will have to think of a way to render the TK Maxx-man more Man-at-C&A to redress the balance.
Perhaps everyone will shift down a notch with the new paradigm coming – the formerly well off to use TK Maxx; the aspirant working class, downgraded to the centre aisle of the big discounters?
Or maybe we are heading into a new style of poverty, where we become so poor that advertising becomes pointless? One where perhaps, small-scale, big-thinking, types like me become the new key influencers? If things were to head that way, catalogue-man, and knitting pattern man, may find themselves once again at the vanguard of quality and style, where they belong.
When we were growing up, Eggo was shameless in his use of brand names. He betrayed no discomfort in referring to things like a can of Fanta, instead of saying some orange. Once, when he was invited to stay at Beacham with me, Polk shouted from his bedroom in the early hours, ‘For Christ’s sake Dickie, will you go to sleep.’ It would be the only time that he raised his voice to me. The cause was, of course, Eggo, who was up and down throughout the night raiding Polk’s private cupboard with its stash of sweets. All of which were considered by Polk as various different devices to keep him from smoking. It wouldn’t have been so bad had not the cuckoo clock above Polk’s chair decided to make one of his rare calls during one of his raids. When challenged about our nocturnal activities the following morning Eggo said that he came down in the night to get a packet of Beech Nut because it was good for his teeth. Beech Nut? Not chewing gum. I mean …
It was the only time Eggo went to Beacham. Later, when Polk had gone, me and Dolly were watching the Test match, and during a drinks-break, she put down her knitting, and told me that his judgment of the Boy King had been that he was too self-important, which was varied to self-centred, vain, and arrogant in subsequent versions as I grew older. I’ve always wondered what he actually said, and whether, if she’d lived long enough, she’d have revealed that a swear word had been part of the description, when she considered me ready for that sort of language.
I was in the same school teams as Eggo. Him, all equipped, semi-pro, me, well, rather more catalogue boy and other items that could be scavanged from elsewhere. It was that Golden Age of education, where everything was free of charge with the sole exception of everything else, by which I mean clothes, footwear, and every other essential that was required to complete an education. We had to bring our own mirrors from home for physics experiments and were forced to purchase the kit if you made the school team in any sport. Eggo was sponsored by the Anabaptists, so he was fine, but boys like me had to take the negotiation home to our parents. And we didn’t have High-Priests and Elders of the Anabaptists for parents, unfortunately, we had normal [sic] ones who said things like:
Representing the school and paying to do it? I’m not having it Dickie. If that’s how the world works, the best-off parents can buy their lads into everything. Well, do they? Does Brian Yeardley’s lad play for the school team? Does he?
No papa, but he plays the oboe for the Navy Cadet Force orchestra. And it’s got a pink case.
What! Bryan Yeardley’s lad’s is a ponce in an orchestra? I’m not having it Dickie. I played rugby with Bryan. Why can’t you just be normal straight about things, the way Johnny Carver does? His father* hasn’t got a proper job, and Johnny’s in every team going. How does that work? Look son, I’m not saying you’ve lied, but you probably have.
I think that’s perhaps where my relationship with knitwear began. Oh, and the desire to crush my adversaries’ skulls like an egg shell under a car wheel.
*rhymes with gather
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