The Great Green Bag
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.