The Smell of Being Free
My family home reeked of whisky and Senior Service
Full Strength, its finger of ash flipped on a carpet
bought with the tenner stashed in Dad’s back pocket.
You need to be ready with the cash. Fresh ground coffee.
Chips twice-dunked in mottled beef dripping, crisp
on the outside, soft in the middle. Lemon meringue pie
in a packet with a globule of citrus oil. Gin and tonic
we learned to serve on ice and liberal with the spirits.
Picnics with a flask of Giulianotti’s vanilla slurped
as summer rain pattered our brown ex-army tent
pitched by a burn to chill the beers. Foosty visits
to grannies relieved by a play-fight with weaponised
Mails and Sunday Posts. These always veered towards
Lord of the Flies. Odour of neighbours’ scowls at our balls
lobbed over hedges, weeds in flowerbeds, most of all
at our car. Pay no attention. It’s their natural expression.
My parents drove fast, thought getting old looked dull,
so declined. Died at home. A sickroom smell combined
with the festering pelt of old dog hogging the coal fire.