It is my brother’s wife’s birthday, and the family are going to a restaurant in Coventry.

But Coventry is the devil.

The road equivalent of spaghetti. Going there’s madness! But this is a birthday, and if this makes my brother’s wife feel 10 years old, then it will be a good day.

We arrive at The Mohr Family Home and pile into Dad’s new Rover. Normal families – or ‘Normfams’ – don’t need 4x4s. But we’re not normal! Not since 1982! The year the world got corners. By which I mean my brother.

My 6 ft 8-ness bagsies the front, and I get to DJ. Dad hands me the tape-to-iPod converter.

I touch it.

It never works again. Mom jokingly blames me. I smile. In all fairness I have broken a foetus’ handful of things. A baker’s dozen chairs (he wasn’t pleased), a couple of sofas and that one toilet seat; but I only break stuff I sit on. I can’t have broken the tape! And especially not today! For today will be a good day!

I smile, and listen to nothing.


We arrive in Solihull and max speed to John Lewis. I inadvertently climb a class increment as I revel in a chopping board with special edges.

For 45 quid.

I put it down. Fearfully. And head to the knives. We have knives at home. And I cook! So I want a proper knife. A knife to rule them all. I want a killer knife! As long as it costs less than a quid.

Mom grabs me.

“We’re going to Lakeland in a bit, you may find a better knife there.”

I listen to Mom.

We leave John Lewis. And enter Lakeland.

Mom is wrong.

I stare longingly at knives. With special edges. For 45 quid.

I stand looking into the kitcheniverse until I can stand it no Mohr. Dad’s looking at something, so I scoot over to see. My brother joins us, but his eye is caught by something over my shoulder. He scoots behind me to grab it. Wicked! I need a good distraction from Nigella-Lawsuburbia.

I am jabbed in the side.

“I can’t help it! It just jumped straight at you!”

My brother is laughing, and forcing a small box into my side.

He is 28.

I look at the box, and stop smiling.

‘Fat Magnet’.

I immediately decide to get him back, but can’t think of anything, so just grab him. I’m bringing the pain when something horrifying happens.

Something that hasn’t happened in years.

Dad’s bumped into someone… Someone middle-aged! Someone who last saw me when I was three, playing with care bears! It’s a surprise formal social situation, and I’ve got my brother in a headlock as he laughs and jabs me with a box that clearly has reversed polarity.

“Why, Pete! Your boys! They’re so grown-up!”

Dad smiles; turns, and explains with his trademark nervous laugh.

“You remember Joan? That woman who used to shout at you when you were both in Sunday School!?”

I am suddenly three years old, stuck in Bill And Ted Hell; the name ‘Joan’ stimulating a reflex regression as strong as the fear most people have of the whole world turning into wasps.

I go quiet, and run away.

It works! I decide to get a drink to recover, when I see a vision.

An angel. I stand with body agape, and make contact.

“One slush puppy please.”

“That’s £1.50.”

“No problem.”

I put my hands in my pockets. And pull out £1.42. Oh no! A problem! SlushGirl’s pretty; smiling at me, and I am 8p short!

The Mohrs mysteriously emerge and loudly offer me a bailout. I feel like a right banker.

“She’s not going to like you if you can’t even afford a slush puppy, Dan!”


I am an England away kit. That could not have gone worse. My brother’s wife hands me 50p.

“You forgot your change, Dan.”

I am two England away kits, but they’re expensive, so I’m only mediums.


We arrive in Coventry, and make it to the ring road. And get lost. Hungry, we sell our souls and make it to the restaurant. I’m looking at the menu on the raised chalkboard when I notice a blonde girl standing close to me. A little too close.

For a little too long.

She moves away. To serve somebody. She’s a waitress, and seems to be looking over. I place my order and walk up the stairs to our table. I decide to have a little look and see if she’s still looking.

I turn round.

She’s immediately behind me! I gasp, and turn back round as subtle as Matt Lucas! Flipping heck! That could not have gone worse!

Today is not a good day.

I sit back down. The Family Four are laughing. Somebody’s googled the words ‘fat magnet Dan’.

I am laughed at.

The Waitress arrives with food. I go red, and scramble to hide my 99p JSA-man’s mobile. She puts the food down. It’s not ours. She apologises with an eastern European accent, and shines her braces in our faces.


I put my phone back on the table. And sigh.


We are walking back to the car, past the Skydome. A door to the arena floor is open, and I look inside. Mick Foley looks at me. I catch his eye. Huh. Mick Foley. Meh. He’s no Adrian Chiles. Or Howard from the Halifax advert. I once touched his head.

We get back into the car. I smile, and go to put on my iPod.

“Oh yeah, it’s broken.”

“Oh, Dan!!!”

It’s late, and nobody’s joking.

Oh. I stop smiling.

And look at my brother’s wife.

She’s laughing, and then I realise. She’s been laughing all day.

I smile.

Today is a good day.



Howard. What A Guy.


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