“You had to start him off didn’t you,” said mum the exasperation in her voice clear to each of us.
Yes, we were guilty of stirring up dad, not that it took much. We did it because we knew he’d go off. We only had to mention politics, the Prime Minister, religion and the bloke next door to get dad going.
And go at it he did.
He had firm opinions on most things and was never averse at sharing them with us no matter how bizarre and crazy they were. The politicians and particularly the Prime Minister were ruining the country, self-interests and political preservation was what they were all about in his opinion. Their concern for the working man run to mouthing a few platitudes that they thought would earn them the votes necessary to be re-elected next polling day.
As for the bloke next door, he was the reason the country was going to pot. He was simply known as McDonald, and as far as dad was concerned, he was the wrong religion, the wrong side of politics and wrong about everything else. So once dad finished his vitriol concerning the state of the nation and the nation’s leader,s he would start on McDonald.
Dad could list every failing McDonald possessed and then some.
“You shouldn’t talk about McDonald in the way,” mum would say to him, “he’s our neighbour and one day we might need him for something, and he’d be within his rights to refuse us.”
“When hell freezes over,” dad would say. “McDonald is what is wrong with this country. Its all about self, what can I get for myself, you know he once said to me that if he was the boss of any workplace, he’d do away with unions and make people work long hours for less pay. He reckons unions have made people soft and expecting too much when it’s the owners who sacrifice everything to provide the jobs.”
Dad was a union man, and it didn’t take much to trigger his opinions about unions.
Mum would roll her eyes and utter something like, “Heaven help us.” once dad was on his soapbox.
It was best we discovered to sit back and enjoy the spectacle of dad sounding off, ranting and raving about the injustice of life. He’d go on for a while until he realised mum had had enough and she’d signalled to him to ‘give it a rest’ as she put it.
You could see that dad was disappointed he was losing his audience and so resigned to the fact he’d had his share of mum’s and our ears he’d slump back in his chair and give the air sufficient time to clear before getting up and announcing, as he always did, that he was going next door to McDonald’s for a beer before dinner.
“Thank goodness,” mum would say, as he’d disappear out the back door and through the friendship gate he and McDonald had built in our adjoining fence. “I sometimes wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear what those two manage to talk about.”