The Lie Emporium

A Life Less Scary

"The interesting and varied life of Scary Duck, Genius, French Cabaret Chantoose and small bets placed."



"Paper Round"

Whale
Peter's Mum: A recent holiday snap

Fourteen years old and stony broke. It was no good - fifty pence a week pocket money just wasn’t doing it for me. After all the necessary expenses - 2000AD comic, a quarter of sherbert lemons and a bob or two for the pron fund, there was precious little left to pay off the school bully.

Faced with poverty, I had to get a job. I took myself down to the local newsagents and begged them for a paper round. They told me to bugger off.

A couple of weeks later I got a phone call. It turned out they no longer wanted me to bugger off, and had, in fact, the highly prized vacancy of delivering newspapers to the citizens of Twyford. Three quid a week, take it or leave it sonny.

It turned out that the Pepall twins were moving house, so I got one end of the London Road, and my brother got the other, nicer, end. I’m not saying that parts of my round were rough, but the tarmac road actually ran out halfway through, and you would often approach some of the council’s finest housing across lawns several feet deep in grass, burned out motors, abandoned Wankel rotary engines and dead postmen.

I’d get up at six in the morning, cycle down to the shop, run round the houses as quickly as possible, ripping number eighty-eight’s unfeasibly large Daily Telegraph to shreds trying to get it through their unfeasibly small letterbox, get home by seven and do my homework before going to school. This got me a) paid and b) evenings to myself. Sorted.

Fridays were the worst, though. That was the day the Maidenhead Advertiser came out. For a town were precisely nothing happened, they certainly managed to fit a lot into their weekly newspaper - about one hundred and twenty pages of it, I kid you not, in a volume that would make JK Rowling blush. You couldn’t even fold it in half, let alone make it small enough to fit through a letter box. The miserable buggers on my round, too lazy to go down the shop and buy it for themselves often got their copy one sheet at a time. And while I was struggling with that lot, it turned out that my brother’s round had a punter who had his porn delivered with his morning papers, fuck my luck.

My round had the unfortunate effect of bringing me into contact with Peter, the school drongo. Peter (pronounced with your tongue pressed firmly against your lower lip), was an obnoxious little turd, who could often be seen wandering the village, lost in a daze, reading “Commando” comics through broken National Health glasses worn, squinting, like a monocle; and dressed in his Army Cadet uniform, the only clothes he possessed outside of his school clothes. He lived with his mum and his nan, two enormous, frightening women, who would often wade into fights to defend their son’s honour, which was bloody, often and reminded one of Norwegian whalers flensing their catch of blubber.

I had to deliver the Daily Star to his house, perhaps the most forbidding in the whole village, and every morning I had to endure the sight of Peter’s mum with a face like a melted owl getting dressed in the living room window. In retrospect, she was probably trying to tell me something, which has left me scarred for life. She was enormous, even through the wrong end of a brass telescope she would loom over you like something large and loomy, and possessed a voice that was perfectly suited to warning ships off the rocks at Beachy Head. I reached a deal with the milkman where we'd meet by the gate and "do" the house together. Safety in numbers, as it were.

One day, Darth who ran the paper shop (I never found out his real name - he wheezed and groaned like the Star Wars villain through years of Capstan Full Strength high tar cigarettes, earning the name by default) announced that Peter (pronounced with your tongue pressed firmly against your lower lip) would be starting a paper round. He got Pennfields, the next road along from my round, and perhaps I’d like to show Peter (pronounced with your tongue pressed firmly against your lower lip) the ropes?

No. Fucking. Way.

I showed him the ropes, like a good boy, and the complaints soon started rolling in.

His second week on the job, if things weren't going badly enough, it snowed. About six inches of the stuff and blowing up a horrible Arctic blizzard, so my brother and I left our bikes at home and walked to the shop. The whole affair took an hour longer than usual, but we got round and earned our precious fifty pence for the day. Riches. Peter (pronounced with your tongue pressed firmly against your lower lip), on the other hand, brought his mum’s Raleigh Shopper bike, and spent the next twenty minutes carefully rearranging the newspapers in the basket on the front while we warmed our bones in front of Darth’s ashtray. Then he got on his bike, cycled a full ten yards up the road and fell off, flat on his face. Newspapers exploded across the road, and whipped up by the wind, flew in all directions across the High Street and over the Post Office.

We laughed.

“Didn’t hurt,” Peter (pronounced with your tongue pressed firmly against your lower lip) said defiantly, blood running down his chin.

Darth went ballistic. He was so cross, he nearly dropped his cigarette. Peter (pronounced with your tongue pressed firmly against your lower lip) sheepishly picked up what was left of his papers, and diasppeared into the blizzard, rounding up loose lifestyle sections and Daily Mail health scare specials like Captain Oates on his last fateful walk into history.

The next day, it rained. Buckets and buckets of freezing cold rain. We had our bikes, our waterproofs and our special thick plastic newspaper sacks to keep the newsprint nice and dry. Peter (pronounced with your tongue pressed firmly against your lower lip) turned up in his Army fatigues and his mum’s Raleigh Shopper with the wire basket on the front, still filled with what was left of the previous day’s newspapers, which he had diligently rounded up, and taken home to dry on the radiator. They were now soaking wet. He piled the new day’s papers on top and spent another twenty minutes carefully rearranging them while Darth watched, shaking his head at the shop window, a sprinkle of fag ash giving a cheerful Chrsitmas effect.

Then he got on his bike, cycled a full ten yards down the road, and fell off, his glasses skidding under the wheels of a passing car with a sickening crunch.

We laughed.

“Didn’t hurt,” Peter (pronounced with your tongue pressed firmly against your lower lip) said defiantly, blood running down his chin.

The papers spent another day drying out on his radiator, and were delivered the next day. I should know, as I had to do it, as Peter (pronounced with your tongue pressed firmly against your lower lip) had got the sack for being "a useless - wheeeeeze - tart". After protracted negotiations with Darth, during which I genuinely thought he was going to die, I was offered an extra pound for the honour of doing the extra work. I should have held out for two - I was virtually chased off the estate by irate punters who thought I was to blame for a week’s worth of newspaper buggery.

I had the easy end of the deal. Peter’s Mum (pronounced with an air of abject terror) went down the shop and ripped Darth limb from limb, before rushing home to try and shag the terrified bloke who’d come to read the gas meter. Over the next months, I saw enough quivering flesh and brassieres constructed by the best of the British shipbuilding industry to last a lifetime, and all for fifty pence a day. Friends, desperate for any naked flesh at all, thought I the luckiest kid in the world. Au contraire, they were the lucky ones.

The milkman, the postman and I still meet at the same victim support group. We’re getting there.

While this story is based on actual events in the life of Scaryduck, certain identities and venues may have been changed to protect the innocent.

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