In my end is my beginning

Our sofa has arrived, 11 billion light years after it was ordered from a bunch of banana-headed miscreants in Glasgow.

The huffing and puffing delivery men have the audacity to complain about the fact our flat is on the top floor, at the end of eight flights of tight-fitting, back-breaking tenement stairs. So what?

If I didn’t think they would bungle it, I’d ask them to take it out onto the roof, via the window, and slalom through the chimney pots before taking it back downstairs and starting again. “Is this definitely the one you ordered?” quips the slightly more breathless of the two. I don’t know. It’s been so long.

I inspect every upholstered inch to make sure there’s no damage, bar the droplets of sweat from these unfit beasts of burden. I hope that they’re not waiting for any tips because I have a couple prepared and they’re definitely not going to like them. “That’s a tough way to start the day,” says one. Well, yes. Now scram. Ah, our sofa, our bloody sofa. I sit down on it, stand up again. Yup, it’s a sofa.

I try lying down on it. Fantastic. It’s a shame the majority of our expected visitors have already been, come and gone, scunnered with our lack of bum support. I don’t know when we’ll see them again. It has occurred to me more than once that new parenthood will be the high- water mark of my popularity.

More friends and family have passed through our doors in the past few weeks than I knew existed. “Really? You’re my cousin? Well, come in.”

They’ve popped by, of course, for a peek at the wean, a fly cup of tea, then offski. Like any intensely happy period it has felt like a genuinely new beginning, but I suspect it’s probably the end. After that first visit it’s hard to see what will tempt them back.

“What’s the wee man up to?” “Erm, you know, just, like, being wee. He might have the hiccups later if you want to come round.” “Oh, we have plans, we need to do that, you know, thing with the ... um ... Catch up soon.”

They have already said their goodbyes, it seems, and waved us off on the slow boat to Family Land. But they can’t take away their cards. The mantelpiece is crammed with them, as is the top of the piano.

A few of them say that they love me. At some point I’ll count all the kisses, divide them by the number of missives and deduce my average smooch rating. They attest to my standing, except the ones to my wife that say things like “love to your fella (whatsisname) too.”

Those crazy jokers. Just five more years and I can take the little chump to the play park and borrow his pint-sized chums. By that stage I’ll have glued all the well-wishers’ cards into his baby book to prove exactly who I was when he arrived.


First published in The Sunday Herald, 2009.