In the days before a whole generation became harnessed to the mobile phone my parents bought me a portable black and white TV. There were three channels to choose from and at least two of them closed down at midnight.
Not long after this a season of Clint Eastwood films began.
Each evening, after diligently finding ways to avoid doing my school homework, I hunkered down in the duvet and practiced my meanest mean-eyed stare.
With Mum and Dad sleeping in the next room it meant that I had to keep the volume turned down. Bullets ricocheting around the bedroom are apt to disturb even the heaviest of sleep.
Nonetheless, it’s probably fair to say that I took things too far and displayed an error of judgement the night I fired up a cigar.
I was reminded of this incident the other evening when my wife had an early night and I noticed that High Plains Drifter was being shown on late night TV. I couldn’t remember the story so out of sheer escapism I decided to give it a go - with the volume turned up high and to hell with the consequences.
Clint rides through a haze and gallops out of the screen. A bullet twangs and zings around the living room narrowly missing the cat. Another bullet rips through the door and lands in the kitchen (sadly, the other cat lost an ear in the general melee). The bullet then rebounds and revisits the living room. There isn’t even time to say ‘hi’ before it busts the lounge window and dents the neighbour’s car. This is followed by a sound like three galvanised dustbins brimming with empty beer bottles being rolled down the carpet-less stairs.
Clint fires up a cheroot which is a torment because I don’t have any in the house since I’ve given up. He looks around the living room and takes a long glug from his bottle of whiskey. I stare back at him: take a sip of my Earl Grey and nibble the corner of a Custard Cream biscuit. He could see from this that I meant business and reached for his gun belt. Luckily, I was just as quick off the draw and managed to turn the TV off before he let me have it. I stood there panting and surveying the damage. Nothing, I figured, that couldn’t be sorted out with a dustpan and brush if I got up early in the morning. I crept upstairs, sticking to the shadows. Miraculously, the wife had slept through it all. Hopefully she’d be none the wiser come morning. I fell into bed and got some shut eye.
I was awoken by my wife shaking my shoulder.
It was hard to explain why I was wearing a poncho and still had my boots on. And when the cat jumped up onto the bed the explanations got very tricky indeed.