05 May, 2009

(Don't) Carry on Screaming

I was having dinner with my parents recently. The food was tasty and all was going great until a small child decided to treat us to her special interpretation of The Texas Chain-Saw Massacre: she toddled round the restaurant screaming gleefully at volume. Now, it's tricky, I'm sure, to get baby-sitters, just as it's a welcome relief to escape the confines of the house when you have a baby. But when the apple of your eye is spoiling the relaxing mood of everyone else, it's more than a little selfish to just let her wander off like that and I'm sure they'd have been up in arms and threatening all kinds of legal if one of the waiting staff had tripped over her while carrying hot soup.

And yet... as I sat down to write this, my mind drifted back to when I was only a little older.

We had a huge back garden and my dad, being a proper dad who can build things, had constructed a shed for me to play in. Bright red, with a black, sloped roof, it was big enough for me to sit in with a mate and read comics, some of which I'm rediscovering to a staggering degree of detail with my bingeing on Marvel Essential compilations. That's the comics I'm remembering, not the friends.

I think I must have been trying to test myself - see how long I could make a single note without stopping. And at the greatest volume. In other words, I was sitting in my shed, screaming my head off. I'm not sure if I actually remember this, or if that's my rationalisation 34 years after the event, but what I do remember is the door to my shed being pulled open and my mum's face lit up in the summer sun. She was livid.

See, our next-door neighbour had come to complain about my screaming. What was a simple matter of vocal endurance for me was particularly distressing for him: he was a dentist whose practise was next door - and that day, he'd booked in a few tooth extractions. The screams had apparently resulted in a number of cancellations as frightened children refused to walk any further up his path while I was wailing away.


Yep, parents should definitely not allow their kids to scream their heads off in public. And kids should definitely not allow their parents to get rid of their comics when they 'grow out of them'. I've spent about 70 quid on The Amazing Spider-Man Essentials alone...