Friday, 27 June 2008

Ages of Man : III

(this is Edward & George's first scene together).

George was sitting by the window, waiting for the arrival of his grandfather. He wasn't expecting him for another quarter of an hour, but George had nevertheless been staring out of the window for twenty minutes already. His parents were the proud owners of a perfectly functioning doorbell, and he had no reason to believe that his grandfather had any serious lack of skill in its operation, but he still felt the urgent desire to watch his ancestor inaccurately park his estate car and, it was hoped, walk up the garden path to seek admission. He didn't know why he felt such urges, but his mother always kept vigil for at least an hour in advance of any ETA, and it wouldn't do to insult the family solidarity.

Having successfully deposited his enormous car, Edward was beginning to contemplate the tricky doorbell conundrum when the door opened of its own accord, revealing behind it a pasty teenage boy with a runaway fringe who was vainly, and indeed vainly, trying to disguise his obvious nervousness.

"Hello, Grandpa" said he, proffering a hand.

"Hello there, lad!" said Edward, taking it. "You're looking ever so much taller than when I last saw you".

"You're looking ever so much shorter since I last saw you!" replied George, with just enough edge in his voice to discourage any further discussion of the subject; in his experience no-one over the age of twenty had the faintest recollection of the hideous embarrassment inherent in being the object of such a conversation, and he went out of his way to remind them as politely as he could manage. He also didn't like to point out that they'd seen each other some nine months previously at his grandmother's funeral, and any subsequent increase in height was attributable exclusively to the growth of his hair. "Do come in. Good journey over?"

"Bit of traffic on the ring-road, but I'd expected it and left in good time."

"Can I offer you a drink? I have some tea in the pot." George was an excellent host, but very seldom had anyone to practise on.

"No thanks, I'd like to get straight on, got my driving head on now!"

George gave the mildly sycophantic guffaw he had been taught to use in such situations. "Right well I'd better tidy up the kitchen before I leave." It was spotless apart from a steaming teapot, two matching mugs and a plate of biscuits in protractor-perfect formation.

"Your parents about?"

"They're at Pilates."

"Oh well, I'll see them next week I suppose. Is this your luggage?" exclaimed Edward, gesturing at three old-fashioned leather suitcases in the hallway. "Are these your father's tatty old cases? Yes, they have his initials. I thought these got thrown out years ago. No matter, I'll pop them in the car. Are you quite sure you need to take this much stuff?"

George was proud of his ancient family luggage, and had expected his grandfather to be rather more pleased to see it. Having tidied the kitchen, he picked up his viola case, locked the front door behind him, and went out to the car. He then pretended to have forgotten something, and went back into the house to check that he hadn't left the gas on, even though he hadn't used it all morning. Thus satisfied, he locked the front door again and took his seat in the car, worrying that he hadn't locked the front door but being too proud to turn back a second time. He wondered for a moment why he'd agreed to come on the trip - he wasn't used to being with groups of people he didn't know, and he certainly wasn't used to being with his grandfather without his parents being there.

Ah well, he thought, it will be an adventure.

No comments: