'Nan?' You in?'
''Oo is it? That you, Darren? You brung me fags?'
'Yeah. It's me, and, no, I haven't brought you any cigarettes. I told you last week I'm not buying them for you any more.' I pushed open the door to the kitchen and there she was. My nanna.
Nanna Doris. The black sheep of our family. Disowned by my mum, Jackie - her daughter; my uncle Pete - her only son, and my sister, Lisa. I'm now the only family member who'll even talk to her. Someone has to.
Well, I can't blame them, I suppose. Lisa put up with her till very recently, when she decided it would be "a larf" to moon at the Best Man while dancing to "YMCA" at her and Danny's wedding reception, after a few too many Bacardi Breezers. It wouldn't have been so bad if half the guests hadn't decided to video the event on their phones, resulting in several versions, from different angles, being posted on Youtube. One of them is competing with Susan Boyle, as far as the hit-count is concerned. Lisa told me one of the blokes at her office has Nanna as his screensaver.
We thought she'd learned her lesson when they put the tag on her ankle. That was when she got the antisocial behaviour order for chucking cat poo into the neighbour's garden. The judge said that while he took on board her comments that said cat belonged to said neighbours, it was not acceptable for her to stockpile said waste matter over the course of a year, and then deposit it all at once during a family get-together. He also ruled that, though the forensic reports on 'exhibit A' were 'inconclusive', the fact remained that said excrement may not have been 100% feline.
Of course, that had been the last straw for my mum. "My mother with an ASBO," she went round weeping, for a week, then vowed never to speak to her again. Uncle Pete gave up on her long ago. I never did learn all the details of that. He won't even have her name mentioned in his presence.
Nanna was sitting on one of her kitchen chairs, brandishing the bread knife.
"What are you doing, Nanna,' I asked sweetly, avoiding sudden movement.
"Get this thing orf me Dar," she croaked. "It's playing merry 'ell wiv me various veins, mate."
She hooked one scrawny leg over the other, dangling her tagged ankle in front of me.
"Nanna, I've already told you. You can't cut through it. You mustn't even try. It'll set off an alarm and you'll end up in court again. They'll only put another one on. You might even end up in prison this time."
"You're bleedin' useless, inchya?" she snarled. "Call yerself a gran'son? Waste o' space, you are, wiv yer bleedin' university eddy-a-cayshun. Why'nchya gerra proper job an' stop spongin' orf the state?"
I sighed. I was used to this. But I refused to abandon her. When all was said and done, she was still my Nan.