Due to the crazy weather John was dropped off at lunchtime on Friday, saving me from a potentially hazzardous journey. He ran in shouting ‘No.No.No. yeeehaaa!’
I wondered what it was that he didn’t want, and thought to myself ‘I bet its not a slice of scrummy cake’ which had been baked especially for him by my lovely friend and neighbour Margaret. I followed him upstairs to give him a hug and to tell him about his special cake.
‘Margaret has made you a cake John’ I said and pointed out of the window to Margaret’s house.
His face lit up ‘Cake, No’ giggled John as we hugged and twirled around the room. I say twirled, it was more like a ruck and maul as John hugged me and dragged me inelegantly around in circles. I don’t think my feet were ever actually on the floor.
Finally he put me down, jumped in the air, slapped his head and ordered ‘Marghed cake and juice please mum.’
‘You just said no to cake’ I said ‘have you changed your mind?’
“No cake yes’ replied John as helpful as ever, adding ‘Marghed’ and pointing to her house in case I couldn’t remember who she was.
‘Right John, so you do want some cake then?’ I said.
John looked at me as if I was mad. ‘CAKE YESSSSS NO’ he yelled jabbing his finger in the direction of Margaret’s house, adding ‘NO NO NO’.
‘Yes yes yes thats Margaret’s house’ I confirmed, joining in the fun, to which John replied ‘No’
‘Yes it is John, stop messing about’ and I went downstairs to get two slices of cake for John, and a cheeky one for me too. It was delicious and inspite of John saying no, I was sure he would devour it with his usual grace.
John ate his cake, drank his juice and then came running into the kitchen dragging his sledge and shouting ‘NO NO NO NOOOOOOO.’ adding ‘pu please mummy, now!’ and then lying on his sledge to demonstrate that he wanted me to pull him. All 18 stone of him. You can’t actually see any part of the sledge once John is on it.
‘Ah, so it’s Snow not No’ I said laughing, how could I not have realised. Doh!
‘I am sorry John, I am a twit’
‘Twi’ agreed John.
Although it was snowing hard, it wasn’t sticking and I explained to John that we need much more snow before we could sledge. Cocking his head to one side while he filtered this information he then confirmed he understood.
‘More biiig no.’ he nodded, immediately followed by ‘Debris, sweets’
And so it was that John, me and a large blue sledge (just incase a foot of snow fell within the next ten minutes) all went to buy sweets from the local Debris. You will probably know it better as Sainsburys.
John and the sledge sat in the car, squealing in delight as the automatic doors opened and closed, yelling ‘NO’ out of the window every time someone walked past.
The following morning John was disappointed at the miserable scattering of snow, hardly any had stuck. To show his disapproval he pulled tongues at the garden, mooed loudly and closed the curtains. That’ll show it!
John decided that it must be business as usual and so we went for the short train journey to West Kirby. In recent weeks he hasn’t wanted to wander around the shops or visit The Miserable Man In The Electrical Shop; choosing instead to stand and stare at the clock in the ticket office, unnerving the people who are waiting to buy tickets.
The train was almost empty except for a homeless man who looked like The Wild Man O’ The Hills and had obviously slept under a bush or in a skip or something. I thought to myself, ‘He must be freezing poor thing, and hungry too no doubt’ but thats where my sympathy ended, I smiled warmly to the frozen man, but motioned to John to keep moving.
John, who had the whole carriage to himself, naturally chose to sit opposite the Wild Man whose hair was full of twigs and odd bits of debris. Thats real debris by the way, not to be confused with Sainsburys. I shuddered in barely disguised horror at the vision opposite us.
His bushy ‘Moses’ like beard was a magnificent mix of colours and textures, greyish brown in parts, a yellowy eggy colour or maybe it was actually egg, plus what looked like tomato ketchup and a green patch of something I didn’t want to guess at.
John was mesmerised by this vision of loveliness and stared fixedly at him, chortling quietly. He wanted to share his experience with me so pointing he said ‘Man, mummy.’ bobbing up and down in his seat. I smiled weakly at the man, and explained that John was not being rude.
The wild man just grunted, nodded and sniffed a long, gurgling mucusy snort before wiping his nose on his filthy damp coat. I really did feel sorry for him, but I am ashamed to say I was also revolted by him.
I tried to be helpful by offering him a tissue which he refused, on account of not needing it anymore. He had a point.
I asked him if he was going to WestKirby too. ‘Just got on the train to keep warm’ he growled ‘I’ll get off when its stops.’
I fell silent and looked out of the window, wondering what events had occured in his life for him to end up like this and willing the train journey to be over.
I wish I had the gift of acceptance that John has when meeting the many weird and wonderful people that seem to travel on trains. Having said that if he doesn’t like the look of someone then we have to move carriages or even get off the train. He is inexplicably drawn to strange looking people and oddballs, however someone I consider to look ‘normal’ can completely freak him out.
It keeps me on my toes.
John decided The Wild Man needed a weather bulletin. ‘NO!’ he shrieked, bouncing up and down ‘NO NO NO YESSSSSS’
The Wild Man closed his eyes. A boisterous John bouncing up and down and yelling was probably the last thing he needed after a long cold night in a skip. I apologised again. The Wild Man opened one eye, smiled through broken, discoloured teeth and gave me the thumbs up, it was unexpected and I found myself smiling back. I mouthed at him that John was saying Snow. He acknowledged his understanding with a belch and a nod.
In Makaton sign language, thumbs up means ‘Good’ John thought The Wild Man was saying the snow was good.
“Good’ said John putting his two thumbs up in reply and closing both of his eyes, he cant close just one.
The Wild Man opened his other eye in surprise and chuckled at John’s response. John opened his eyes and then put his little fingers up as well as his thumbs, which is the sign for ‘Very good’ I explained this to the Wild Man who followed suit and signed ‘Very Good’.
Without warning he sneezed violently making John and I jump. John thinks sneezes are hysterical and he roared laughing while I waved the tissue in the air hoping The Wild Man would use it this time, and quickly. Thankfully he did and after several wipes and a long blow he offered it back to me. I declined politely and tried not to look horrified.
John shouted ‘Snee man, again please, now’ and collapsed once more into fits of giggles. “He thinks sneezing is funny’ I explained unnecessarily. The Wild Man then produced a spectacular faux sneeze which nearly finished John off. The Wild Man and I laughed too, its hard not to once John starts.
The train reached West Kirby and John and I stood up. ‘Bye then’ I said ‘Thank you for entertaining John’
The Wild Man looked at me and then at John ‘Thank you for letting John sit by me’ he said. I blushed with shame realising that he was fully aware I had tried to stop John sitting by him.
‘He’s a good boy you’ve got there love’ he said.
I smiled at him ‘Yes he is, isn’t he, I am very lucky.’
I learnt a very valuable lesson today. Thank you John, my lovely lovely boy.