He wants cheering up.
The day after my mother died I had to go to where she lived to occupy the house, as, if it was left empty, it would be raided as soon as her death notice appeared in the Manchester Evening News.
It was a good time for my siblings to retreat into their own families: they had discovered her body; and I was happy to be left alone pottering, finding what needed to be secured and starting to sort the house out before visitors started dropping in.
After a hard day of it, and listening to drug dealers shooting at each other, I decided to stop for the evening. I rang home and spoke to my own wife and children, and then went to see what was in the freezer and cooked something for dinner, got a bottle of wine out of the garage and settled down in front of the TV to fill my mind with whatever rubbish happened to be on.
But there wasn't any rubbish on: there was an episode of the Royle Family. Only a few days before I'd told someone at work that I could barely hear a sentence on that programme that I couldn't imagine hearing at home from one member or another of my family. So I watched and laughed.
About ten minutes in the 'phone rang. It was an Auntie (actually the widow of a second cousin once removed, but that counts as Auntie) who was ringing to offer condolences. If you can remember Phyllis off Coronation Street you can imagine the voice, but this Aunt had got through more Park Drives and gin than Phyllis ever had.
I'd turned the television down, and the first thing she said coincided exactly with Nana saying something on the programme, completely inaudibly to me, because of the nicotine- and alcohol-induced rasp in Auntie's voice. And she stopped just as Jim Royle asked: "What is the stupid old bugger going on about now?"
Imagine that you are talking to your godfather's widow: she is as hard as nails; in spite of that she is cut up; and you start killing yourself laughing. How do you get out of that?
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