The Great Green Bag

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Gail Turner re­veals what hap­pened when Grand­pop’s ashes ar­rived at a child’s party.

The op­er­a­tion was about to com­mence. I care­fully pulled on the sur­gi­cal gloves and held my breath as I slowly be­gan the del­i­cate pro­ce­dure... no this was not open-heart surgery, this was plac­ing my hands into the un­known – the school bag. Many a time I have spent half an hour with a tooth­pick scrap­ing a half chewed tof­fee out of my nails or im­paled a fin­ger on some half eaten sausage roll, or three-week-old banana. On a pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sion I emp­tied the bag onto the floor once and could have fed a fam­ily of four for a fort­night with the half eaten things I found in there. My lit­tle sci­en­tist had the Alexan­der Flem­ing experiment go­ing on with a spore rid­den mouldy tuna sand­wich, I think it had orig­i­nally been tuna any­way. Of course I found two party in­vites en­tan­gled and glued to­gether with God knows what yel­low sub­stance. Our son has a bet­ter so­cial life than us. What hap­pened to us get­ting in­vited to places? We’re too old; now it seems we only get in­vited to the doc­tors to hand in stool sam­ples. I peel the in­vites apart and one of them was fancy – I’m not talk­ing the ones you rip out a pad with some Cbee­bies char­ac­ter over it. This one should have been pre­sented on a gold cush­ion em­bla­zoned with di­a­monds. “We would be de­lighted for you to at­tend Lily’s Preppy Pony Party”. Another note fell out and listed po­ten­tial presents that the lit­tle dar­ling was want­ing. This was like a wed­ding, not a kid’s party. I needed a seat to read this beauty, I’m not tight by any man­ner of means, but we like to be savvy with spend­ing. The list com­prised of a sec­tion for fam­ily gifts and class friends, now was that work­ing class or mid­dle class? Thank good­ness we weren’t fam­ily as they had to fork out for mini ipad, Leappad, Smoby house, BMW X6 bat­tery car... se­ri­ously all this for a 7-year-old kid, what is wrong with these peo­ple? The peas­ant’s list (that’s us) was not much less ex­pen­sive,

“Our son has a great so­cial life, the only in­vite we get is from the doc to hand in stool sam­ples”

games for the play sta­tion, Frozen mag­i­cal castle, the list goes on. I stared in dis­be­lief that some­one would have the au­dac­ity to ask for cer­tain gifts. A bag of Hari­bos and a colour­ing pad isn’t go­ing to cut it at this event. I could not wit­ness the Kar­dashian-es­que party and sent hubby in­stead. He came back telling me they were all spoilt brats run­ning around scream­ing and mak­ing a mess. I told him that’s a usual kids party. He added, “But they had a mini cir­cus per­form, pony rides, a two-foot high cake which was shaped like a horse and he­li­copter rides for the kids”. I gasped and went into a rant about health and safety and vul­gar use of money, he then burst out laugh­ing and said he was only jok­ing about the he­li­copter. But when I asked if he’d re­mem­bered the gift he said, “Yes, I nearly for­got. Luck­ily I saw it ly­ing in the din­ing room just as we were leav­ing. I don’t know what you got Lily but it weighed a ton.” I felt a cold rush of blood, “What colour was the gift bag?” I asked. “Green” he replied. “Oh God! That’s the urn with Grand­pop’s ashes in it!” I ex­claimed. We jumped off the sofa faster than Usain Bolt to phone them. What ex­actly I was go­ing to say? “Re­ally sorry that I couldn’t af­ford to buy your daugh­ter a Cartier watch, we pre­fer to give home­made gifts.” Luck­ily, Lily had mis­taken the gift for sand and scat­tered the ashes all over the deep pile car­pet with only Barbie and Sponge­bob present. Lily’s mother how­ever was so up­set that she now had some dead old guy all over her car­pet and didn’t know what to do. She asked if we could come around and sort it. The whole way there all I felt mor­ti­fi­ca­tion. So we headed over, vac­uum cleaner in hand. And as we sucked him up, my eyes were look­ing to heaven plead­ing for for­give­ness. Af­ter that fi­asco, we were happy we could fi­nally scat­ter his ashes be­fore any more mishaps, his wish was to be where he met Gran at North Ber­wick. Gran couldn’t quite make it to the top of the hill so we left her rest­ing on a bench half way up. So, there we stood high on the hill over­look­ing the sea with the vac­uum cleaner cylin­der in hand. We re­leased the con­tents of Pop’s ashes, mixed with a few dog hairs and an old but­ton – we did re­ceive some funny looks as we stood on cliff top, do­ing a rit­ual of last good­byes, pray­ing and re­leas­ing our hoover’s con­tents into the wind. Job done we saun­tered back for Gran, who had a pink but­ton and pow­dery stuff in her hair.

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