Bedtime and bogeys

22 03 2013

The boys had to share a room for a while. They each had bunk beds, placed at opposite sides of the room. Bedtime was eight o’clock and that usually signalled ‘our’ time – knackered, in front of the television. We may have been joined by the girls for an hour, or they chose to be in their rooms. Either way, once the boys were in bed, peace reigned.

Or did it?

They never want to go to bed, so Vinnie does a deal.

Vinnie: If we have to go to bed, can we have a story tape?

Jen: Yes. You can put it on yourself, can’t you?

Vinnie: Yep.

He runs upstairs.

From downstairs, we soon hear the low hum of Postman Pat. The thing is, once they are in bed, as long as we think it is Postman Pat, it doesn’t matter. And when that low hum continues after 10 pm, we still think nothing of it, because we are, quite frankly, poor excuses for mothers … until … 

From upstairs.

One or other boy, usually Max: Aargh! You f*****g b**ta*d!

Carol gets up and goes to the bottom of the stairs.

Carol: What’s going on?!


Carol: Who was swearing?

Silence. Then a bit of muffled, but high-pitched, giggling.

Carol: I’ll ask one more time. Who was it?

Max appears at the top of the stairs, looking aggrieved.

Max: You know Vinnie, yeah? Well he won’t shut up! He won’t let me get to sleep.

He rubs his eyes, as if so very, very tired.

Carol: From what I could hear, neither of you were trying that hard to sleep. Vinnie!

A slightly sheepish Vinnie appears. It’s important at this point to describe what they look like. Vinnie is dressed in ill-matched pyjama top and bottoms, with his dressing gown on over these. This garment has seen better times; the sleeves have been chewed by John, the dog, so hang in tatters and holes around his wrists. His thick curly hair is sitting astride his head, rather than on it.

Max, however, is wearing some newly-acquired ‘boy’s’ pyjamas, most definitely indicative of a move away from women’s clothing. With his dressing gown belt tied firmly around his small waist, he puts one in mind of Noel Coward. Vinnie is more Jim Royle. 

Carol: I’m giving you one warning. Go to bed, the pair of you, and go to sleep. 

Max: Aren’t you going to tell him off?

Carol: Bed!

She fixes a stare on them. They sigh heavily and turn to go.

Carol: Just a minute … where did you get language like that from?

Max stops.

Max: You.

He runs.


Of the two boys, Vinnie was more in need of night time reassurance. At first, this was sweet, and cute. He’d come into our room in the early hours, saying he’d had a bad dream. Jen would let him into the bed on her side, which meant she would move into the middle. Bless.

Until the fifth time it happened, by which time I was sick of how the extra weight in the bed caused me to roll towards the middle, which was no longer cute, or sweet. Also, of the two boys, it was Vinnie that had the night-time bladder problem and yes, you’ve guessed it, a line had to be drawn after he’d peed in our bed. With us in it.

Carol: Vinnie, I’ve got an idea.

Vinnie looks at her, all ears.

Carol: How about, the next time you have a bad dream, I buy it off you?

Vinnie looks at Carol, not sure how to respond.

Carol: It works with warts. If someone sells their wart, the person buying it has it by the next day, and the person selling it has it no longer!

Vinnie: How much?

Carol: Twenty pence.

Vinnie thinks about this. Twenty pence is a considerable amount of money for a boy who has none.

Vinnie: Okay.

Carol: Good. If you feel you have to come in tonight, I’ll have twenty pence ready and I’ll buy that dream off you.

Vinnie: Do you want my wart as well?

Carol: No, I don’t want your wart.

Anyway, it worked. He made about £1.20 and then lost interest.


We’ve never been too bothered about bedroom decor. They can do what they like – it’s only walls. And really, what’s the worst thing that can happen? A few badly drawn doodles that will be decorated over later? 

When Max got his own room, Vinnie wanted his bunk bed moved away from the window side. As we pulled it away from the wall, Jen said: ‘What are they?’

I looked. She was squinting at a mass of brownish-grey marks on the wall.

‘Oh no, have we got damp?’ I said, concerned. Jen was touching them, and suddenly pulled away.

‘The little sod,’ she said, holding one up to me in disgust. It was a bogey.
















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