I never had a family until a woman thrice my age came into my life: her granddaughter Florence and her boyfriend Larry, her daughter Olive and her husband George, and of course the lady herself granny; and not forgetting great-uncle Derek (who is over a hundred) and forgetting her son Reg and his wife Hiabirtha.
But the arrival of magic was a bit of a surprise. How magic was related to granny I don’t know, I didn’t ask, granny did not seem to know either. She had two children, one of which was probably a girl and the other who was probably a boy. She was called magic, just magic, not Magic, or magic somebody or somebody magic, or even Mrs magic. No, no, no, just magic.
She, that is magic, always wanted money for something, perhaps the two kids were ill and needed special and very expensive medicine. Where she lived I did not know.
She soon found out that George had money and I had money. However she also found out that it was useless asking George or me, she asked Olive and granny, though granny usually said that I had already spent all my money on granny.
A quiet weekend, that was what we wanted, just granny and me together in granny’s bungalow doing all the simple and silly things we do together: like feeding each other with a spoon and drinking out of one glass together, just simple things.
Olive gave George’s money to magic, but not this weekend. Olive and George are on a yurting holiday all over Mongolia.
The phone rings, it’s magic, her children need special and very expensive medicine. No, I have no money, I have spent it on goodies for the two of us this weekend. “Why don’t you go to a state doctor? He’ll write you a prescription for free.” No, no, no, her children need special and very expensive medicine immediately otherwise they could snuff it.
I realise at that point that magic is probably an illegal alien and has no rights to be in the country. This explains a lot. I tell her to go to a doctor and that I have no money and slam the phone down.
The phone rings within seconds, I pull the telephone plug out and the fun starts. A few more seconds and somebody hammers on the front door. “Open up! We have to come in.”
I engage the doorchain lock and open the door. Bang, the door opens only ten centimetres (that’s about a hundred imperial feet), the limit of the chain. “Who are you? It’s a bit late for a visit and next time use the doorbell button, not the back of your axe.” I could see men in red with a stretcher and men in yellow with axes.
“Emergency Services. We have to come in and see if Mrs Thimblethwaite is alright. She has pressed her panic button. We must come in.”
No way was I going to let them in, granny was OK. I knew that they got more money if they examined granny. I knew also, that if they do it once, they’d do it again a week later and every week after – easy money.
“Nobody has pressed a panic button. Mrs Thimblethwaite is fine. All I did was pull out the telephone plug. Go away!”
“That’s it! That’s it! Pulling the phone plug is the same as pressing the panic button. We have to come in and see if Mrs Thimblethwaite is alright...”
“My name is Thelma Thimblethwaite and I’m OK, thank you.”
I manage to shut the door. “Goodnight!” I engage the four bolts on the front door and on the back door.
The noise gets louder. I phone the police and the local TV station. “There’s a fight going on in Gerry Hatrick Lane just round the back of the town hall.” I kiss granny on the back of her neck and turn the TV on loud.
I’m not going to tell you what granny and I did together – just some simple and silly things – the noise continued.
Suddenly the sound of blue lights and the flashing of sirens – the police broke up the battle.
The next day I watched the video of last night’s troubles. All these men, not just firemen and paramedics, hitting one another – some passers‑by had joined in. A fireman had cut his hand with his axe and had to be taken to hospital. The crowd of spectators grew. Police arrived and joined in.
A boy and girl joined in the fighting, magic’s teenage boy and girl, they certainly did not look ill. And then appeared magic, she looked around, saw the police and possible trouble. She grabbed her two kids and dragged them away. We never saw them again.
The video ended with a little boy coming up to the camera and asking in a tiny voice:
“When do the fireworks start?”