My dad had an insurance policy with a firm whose man came to collect the weekly payment at about 8.00pm on a Monday night. My parents very rarely went out during the week but this week they were going to show their faces at someone's leaving do. I was about fourteen but still my mum ran through everything in triplicate.
The ten pounds was kept under a fruit bowl on the French Dresser in the kitchen. What could be simpler? I got out of bed immediately when I heard them return shortly after 11.00pm.
"Mum, what did you do with the money ?" I asked - "What do you mean?"
I lifted up the fruit bowl. "The money's not there!" I said showing her the evidence. “What have you done with it?” I started to look and feel guilty. It wasn't there. Honest. I'd taken some money a few weeks before only about 40 pence. Nowhere near ten pounds. "I put the money there myself, you saw me do it. I am tired now you've got until the morning to find it otherwise we will be having a little chat." she said.
I stormed off to bed luckily refraining from slamming the bedroom door. I was really angry and swore to myself under my breath. In 8 hours time was going to get a good hiding for something I had not done (stolen the ten pounds). I had a terrible night I defy anybody to sleep when they are a condemned man. Maybe mum would put it off until after school. Would that be better? surely it would be worse. The waiting. The fear. The false hope of a reprieve.
Morning arrived too quick. I dressed quickly. I checked the fruit bowl. I checked the surrounding area. I counted down to zero. Mum stood in the doorway in her dressing gown. "Take your coat off, we need to have a little chat". I followed slowly into the living room. Mum read the riot act. In technicolour. This was stealing. Stealing from our own kind. Ten Pounds??
I flung my coat over a chair. I undid my school trousers. Yanked down my pants and made the familiar trip across mum's lap. I cried for what seemed like an eternity. I was over mum's lap for what seemed like an eternity. Yet again mum took no prisoners. I wondered if any of my classmates had started the day with a spanking. A day sitting on those hard wooden stools. It would be hell. It was hell. I spent all day being on my best behaviour. I couldn't afford to have any more damage done to my backside. At home mum was not talking to me. Dad wasn't talking to me. I was so unclean I would have spanked myself if I could have.
Months later as a punishment for something else I had to wash a lot of ornaments, one was the fruit bowl I dropped it in the soapy water of the sink. When I next looked in the sink I saw a ten pound note swimming around in the sink. My only idea is that something sticky was on the underside of the fruit bowl and none of us had held the fruit bowl up high enough to actually look underneath. I spent the ten pounds in due course.
UP YOURS MUM xx