A Knife in the Back
Published: December 30, 2008
Updated: December 31, 2008
When Cyril’s dad finally pegged it after a long and fruitless battle with old age, Cyril thought he had it made.
“I’ve got it made!” he chortled gleefully to Bogroll, “the old goat was loaded. I’ll be in for a packet, you mark my words…” and he resolved to visit the travel agent forthwith, in order to begin planning his world cruise.
“…an’ a Merc’d be nice, too…” He added Ron, the car dealer, to his list.
“…and a flash pad in Putney.” He jotted it down, “Whaddya think?”
Bogroll who, frankly, was not much given to thought and didn’t give a toss about anything except where his next meal was coming from, scratched his balls and farted.
“Stupid mutt,” growled Cyril, so lost in a reverie of riches, however, that he failed to notice Bogroll hooking the remnants of last night’s double cheeseburger from the draining board with a grubby paw.
Cyril, after much soul-searching over the years, had come to the conclusion that his dad owed him big-time. For one thing, he’d had the temerity to saddle him with a handle that had made his schooldays a living hell and, for another, he’d been foolish enough, after 10 years of matrimony to lust after, and eventually take to wife, his blonder and more youthful secretary, ousting Cyril’s long-suffering mother in the process.
Cyril’s ma, devastated by his pater’s unseemly demonstration of raging male testosterone, had promptly done a bunk with postie, leaving young Cyril to the tender mercies of the newly-enamoured pair.
“Let them bloody-well look after you, then,” she’d said, “I’m off…” and she and postie had merrily and without further ado, departed to the sunnier climes of Clacton.
Understandably distressed at this ignominious desertion, Cyril began to display signs of rebellion or, as it’s now referred to, Attention Deficit Disorder. Their local GP however, unfamiliar with Ritalin and the dubious benefits thereof, had prescribed a good thumping instead, and this was administered accordingly and with much enthusiasm by Cyril’s new step-mum.
Needless to say, step-mum (henceforth to be known as Shirley) and Cyril’s pa, love-struck as they were, couldn’t cope, and he was duly shunted off to his Uncle Albert’s where, fortuitously, he was suitably subdued enough to have managed, thus far, to avoid confrontation with the forces of law and order.
Nevertheless Cyril, perhaps with some justification, figured that the old man, now defunct, owed him one.
It was, therefore, with high hopes and much anticipation, that he awaited the reading of the will.
“…and to my beloved wife Shirley…” droned the solicitor, “…I leave my entire estate…”
Cyril glared at Shirley, who was demurely decked out in black togs and lace veil. A grin could vaguely be seen forming on ruby lips behind it. Her bosom heaved with delighted emotion and the thought of an idle life on the Riviera.
“…and to my dear son, Cyril…” the solicitor continued,
Cyril’s eyes swivelled greedily. He gulped audibly in anticipation.
“…my set of silver fish knives.”
“Eh?” Squawked Cyril, horrified, “Is that it? Bloody knives? You scheming ol’ cow!” and he had to be unceremoniously bundled from the office, much to Shirley’s obvious delight.
Cyril, however, not a man easily deterred in a crisis, especially where matters of the wallet were concerned, decided to investigate further.
“Might be worth a bloody fortune them knives, you never know,” he informed Bogroll that evening. Bogroll, whose interest in knives was limited as to whether they were sharp enough to chop up his tripe into bite-size chunks, dribbled gently and whined.
“The Internet! That’s it! All them antique sites…” cried Cyril, an avid Antiques Road Show fan. And, quite excited at the prospect of his knives having, perhaps, been instrumental in slicing succulent sea bass at the notorious table of Henry VIII, he dashed off to his local Internet caff forthwith.
Unfamiliar with the marvels of modern technology however, it was a good half hour before he discovered Ask Jeeves.
“Bloody stupid thing,” he muttered, as he laboriously typed ‘Mister Jeeves, where can I find sumthing about anteek fish nives please?’ into the search box.
Cyril stared in mounting horror at Jeeves’ polite replies, formulated thus:
‘Where can I find recipes for grilled fish?’
‘Where can I read about Irish fish?’
‘Where can I go fishing in England?’
“Bloody grilled fish?” squawked Cyril, gobsmacked, “Bleedin’ Irish fish? Fishin’ in England?” and he hopped off his stool furiously, determined not to let such ignominy pass lightly.
“’Ere!” he yelled to his fellow punters, all clicking busily and with much concentration, “Ask fer yer dosh back! Them machines don’t work, do they?” and he stomped out in high dudgeon, determined never to enter the portals of such a disgraceful establishment again.
“Bloody rip-off, that’s what it is,” he muttered darkly to Bogroll, “We’ll have to find another way…”
Thus it was that Cyril and Bogroll took to viewing as many antiques programmes on the telly as possible, in the hope of spotting knives the same, or at least similar to, those bequeathed to them by Cyril’s doting but sadly departed dad.
Cyril became particularly fond of Going for a Song.
“Oi, that Mariella bird’s a bit of alright, ain’t she?” he smirked, poking Bogroll painfully in the ribs. Bogroll squealed and nipped Cyril’s finger. Mariella peered at a Victorian porcelain doll lasciviously.
“Beautifully proportioned,” she purred. Cyril could not help but agree.
“Two hundred pounds, I think,” she said decisively.
“Two hundred quid? For a bloody doll? Imagine what me knives must be worth then!” cried Cyril, ecstatic. Logic had never been his strong point.
After several weeks of intensive viewing however, Cyril and Bogroll were becoming increasingly disheartened. Cyril’s eyes, puffed and painful, had been tested by his local optician and spectacles were prescribed for strain. Bogroll, bored with the whole enterprise, had taken to sneaking out as soon as the telly was switched on, in order to renew his flagging romance with next door’s poodle, whom he’d cruelly neglected of late.
It was on his return from one such rendezvous that he was astonished to see Cyril capering merrily, and in a state of advanced inebriation, around the living room.
“I’ve seen ‘em! I’ve seen ‘em!” he yelped. Bogroll, exhausted by his hitherto unsuccessful endeavours in the lust department, growled in understandable frustration.
“The knives, you stupid mongrel, the knives! They were on ‘Ageing Antiques, large as life. Worth a bloody fortune, too!” and he kissed the unfortunate Bogroll squarely, and at great risk to his own personal safety, on a slobbery muzzle.
Cyril spent the next few days mulling over his next move. He finally resolved to take the knives to the Antiques Road Show which, fortuitously, was scheduled to take place the following week at a stately home a mere fifty miles away.
“’Cos then I’ll be on the telly, see?” he informed Bogroll, “And with a bit of luck, that ol’ cow Shirley’ll be watching.” And he rubbed his hands together gleefully, in anticipation of the forthcoming momentous event and Shirley’s impending downfall.
Cyril spent the night prior to his departure lovingly polishing his fish knives with spit and fag ash until they gleamed. They looked positively regal lying in a neat row on the blue felt. Cyril, satisfied, went to bed a happy man and dreamt of purchasing a luxury apartment on that new liner for billionaires he’d seen reported on the Beeb news that very morning.
“You can’t come. No dogs allowed. I checked. They’re afraid you’ll pee in the peonies I expect,” he informed Bogroll the following morning. Bogroll, looking forward to another blissful bonk with the poodle, waggled his jowls disconsolately and did his best to look disappointed.
Arriving at Harringay House at the appointed hour, black box clutched lovingly under his arm, Cyril eyed the queue nervously.
“Flippin’ ‘eck,” he muttered, positioning himself behind a tweedy lady bearing a remarkable resemblance to Maggie Thatcher, “I’ll be ‘ere all day! ‘Ere, wot you got, then?” and he poked Ms Thatcher most unceremoniously in the small of her back.
“If it’s any of your concern, young man, which it isn’t, I’ll have you know that I am in possession of some rather fine silver snuffboxes. Great, great grandfather. Very old. Most precious.” And, digging out a handful of blackened receptacles from the depths of her patent leather handbag, she thrust them under Cyril’s nose proudly.
“Silly ol’ bat,” muttered Cyril scathingly, “I keep me false teeth in boxes wot look better than that,” and he cheered up considerably, much aided by frequent nips from his hip-flask, a souvenir purchased on Southend seafront.
It was fortunate that he’d had the foresight to pack some sandwiches, for the wait was long and the day a warm one. Eventually, however, and by now somewhat less than sober, he laid his box carefully before his designated expert and opened it with a flourish.
“Hmmmm…” said The Expert, eyeing the knives.
“Hic…” replied Cyril, eyeing The Expert.
“Ten thousand pounds,” whispered Mrs Snuffbox in his ear with a smirk, heading for the exit.
“Cripes!” yelped Cyril, furious.
“Er…” crooned The Expert, holding a knife aloft and scrutinising it closely.
“Well?” croaked Cyril.
“You’ll observe the mark here?” asked The Expert, pointing to a crest on the handle.
“I ain’t blind,” said Cyril, affronted.
“Woolworths, I’m afraid, circa 1990,” sighed The Expert, “Next?”
The lady at Cyril’s local Help The Aged, was delighted.
“Oooh, thank you sir, they’re lovely. I’ll put them in the window straight away. Might even be able to get a tenner for them!” and she bustled away quite flustered and obviously overcome by Cyril’s unexpected generosity.
Cyril, a man whose vocabulary, whilst not a large one, nevertheless contained every expletive known to man was, for once, unable to utter a word such was his disappointment and distress.
Bogroll, sensing trouble and himself on the point of exhaustion after an extended afternoon catering to an apparently insatiable bitch, crept under the sofa and did his best to make himself invisible.
It took Cyril quite some time and many bottles of Ireland’s finest, to finally come to terms with his sad loss. Life, however, must go on, and he eventually returned to relative normality and his vocabulary reverted to its former level of crudity.
He even, on occasion, ventured a trip to the Fox and Hounds, where he elicited much sympathy for his plight from his fellow tipplers.
Bogroll, somewhat less rotund, ventured out from beneath the sofa.
One evening the two of them, bored with Neighbours and the news, sallied forth and entered the Fox and Hounds only to be greeted by whispers and sniggers from the assembled multitude.
“What’ll you ‘ave then, Cyril, fish ‘n’ chips?” bellowed Bert the barman, beergut wobbling dangerously.
“Wassup with you lot, then?” growled Cyril warily.
“Oh, nowt really, Take a look at this though, Cyril me ol’ mate,” and he thrust a copy of the local rag under Cyril’s nose.
Cyril fumbled for his specs.
“There!” smirked Bert, and pointed.
FAKE EXPERT INFILTRATES ANTIQUE’S ROAD SHOW!
“I was only having a bit of fun!” protested Harry Harper, of no fixed abode, before being led away in handcuffs…
“And ‘ere!” Bert thrust forward another dirty digit.
HELP THE AGED SELL SET OF FISH KNIVES FOR £150,000!
“Oooh, ever such a nice young man donated them last month,” gushed Mavis, who’s worked for over 35 years in the shop. “They belonged to Henry VIII, you know…”
© Andrea Lowne