Uncle Herbert came to visit us the other day. He’s a lovely old gentleman much liked by the whole family for his kindness and extreme generosity.
He always arrives laden with gifts for everyone and I must admit to looking forward to my large bottle of vintage single malt whisky every time he visits.
He certainly is an expert at choosing great gifts that we can all love and appreciate, Uncle Herbert is. Anything from something decorative or useful for the house to lovely toys and various presents for the children!
All are received gratefully with open arms … as well as Uncle Herbert himself of course. If there’s any spare space available in our open arms he is received gratefully there too.
Even the lazy dog lying on the mat opposite the TV reacts to Uncle Herbert’s arrival. He looks up … yawns … and goes back to sleep.
The cat of course hurries in the corner of the room and consults his book of tricks to see how he can embarrass me in my own home in front of my own family and friends.
Oh what a lovely meal we had last Sunday when Uncle Herbert called.
The best steak that money can buy, all sorts of roast vegetables, with Yorkshire pudding, gravy and all the trimmings. All washed down with fine wine (and orange juice for the kids) followed by a steamed plum pudding with custard and a glass or two of port – just to celebrate you understand.
After such a sumptuous meal the rest of the family decided to go out to the park for a walk to help the digestion … and I was left alone with Uncle Herbert.
He settled in front of the TV in his favorite armchair and pretty soon he felt the effects of the food and drink and followed the lazy dog into the land of nod.
I sat on the settee for a while relaxing and pretty soon the conniving cat was up to his tricks again. He jumped on the back of the armchair just behind Uncle Herbert and gently tried to paw his head whilst he was asleep.
I should mention at this point that Uncle Herbert wears a wig. It’s pretty obvious to anyone I think except himself. He’s obviously self-conscious about his bald head and prefers to cover it with some falsies instead …
Hey, why not. If it makes him happy why should we interfere?
Sensing a potential disaster with the cat standing just behind Uncle Herbert’s head I quickly, but silently, tried to entice him away with a morsel of food from the dinner table.
Eventually, the cat moved away and I cleared the dinner table and went to the kitchen to wash the dishes, leaving Uncle Herbert and the dog fast asleep.
Half an hour later when I’d finished washing up I returned to the living room to find Uncle Herbert still asleep in the armchair minus the wig.
What could have happened … I panicked. Surely the cat did not take it away without waking Uncle Herbert!
I searched everywhere for the missing wig. First behind the armchair … pretty obvious place. Then on either side of the sleeping man in case the wig fell by his side. Then … as usually happens in these circumstances … I widened the search area.
They say when you’re looking for something it will always be in the last place you think of looking … again, pretty obvious … because once you’ve looked there and found it, then it will be the last place and you’d stop looking. The thing is … where is this last place where the wig is supposed to be?
It was one of those quick and frantic searches yet carried out very quietly because I did not want to wake sleeping Uncle Herbert. It had to be done hurriedly before the children came back from the park and discovered that their uncle had detachable hair.
I prayed to St Anthony to help me find the missing article, but the Saint must have been busy with something else that day because the wig was no where to be found.
A cold sweat covered my forehead and trickled silently into my eyes. My heart was pounding in my chest like a drum sending my blood pressure to new highs.
Think … think … think … where else could it be? I even looked in the fridge and in the washing machine … although why it should be there is beyond anyone’s imagination. But when I panic … I really panic … I’m expert at it.
And panic makes you do stupid things … like go out in the back garden hoping for inspiration … or just to escape from being inside where all the panic is.
How could I possibly explain to Uncle Herbert that his wig had disappeared?
What if the family came back and the children asked him if he'd shaved his head as a fashion statement? Do you think he'd be angry enough to want his whisky back?
Questions ... questions and more questions ran through my mind as I stepped into the garden for inspiration.
Just as well I went out because that’s exactly where the wig was … right in the middle of the garden. That wretched cat will be the end of me one day …
I can read it in the Medical Journal already … heart attack induced by family cat!
I picked up the wig which was by now covered in dirt and cat’s saliva. How do you clean a wig? Anyone know? More questions.
I can’t put it in the washing machine … the spin dryer would turn Uncle Herbert into a curly head.
I can’t vacuum clean it … it would get sucked up in the machine and transformed into a mop.
I can’t beat it hard against the wall to knock off the dirt … it would probably moult and lose or shed hair … and poor bald Uncle Herbert would have a bald wig to cover his bald head.
I rubbed my hand across the wig gently and slowly wiped away the cat’s saliva with a clean cloth. I then tiptoed into the living room and tried to replace the hair-piece onto its rightful place … one problem … which way is forward and which way is backwards … it all looked the same to me.
I gently let it drop on Uncle Herbert’s head and quickly sat on the settee pretending to be asleep just as he woke up and straightened his wig to its pre-destined position without any care or notice.
NOW IN PAPER BACK