End of story

THIS SUMMER El Sid, my old man, came over from Marbella on one of his impulsive state visits. He called me unexpectedly from Gatwick at two in the morning. Sid's state visits usually include a telephone call at two o'clock in the morning. "Buenos noches," he yelled down the phone, all jovial like. I think he'd had a few shants on the plane. He wanted me to drive over there and pick him up.

I had been fast asleep. The last thing I wanted to do was get dressed and drive all the way over to Gatwick to pick up an elderly drunk from Terminal 2.

"Can't you get a cab?" I said.

"What, at my age?" he said.

He really is a pain in the backside sometimes.

I drove to Gatwick in my slippers and found him chatting up the woman in the bureau de change. He was bending down and speaking to her through the slot where they slide the money out.

He saw me approaching and I could hear him say to her, "See this bloke here? He's a Whore of Literature."

I got hold of him, shoved him in the back seat, slung his bags in the boot, and broke the speed limit all the way home. I barely spoke to him I was so tired. I was like a zombie. When we got home I pushed him through the front door, threw his luggage in the spare room and dived straight back to bed without saying a word.

I know this sounds disrespectful of me. But it annoys me the way he always manages to turn up drunk in the middle of the night. But we are all big sleepers in our family. We're like chickens - turn out the light and we all go quiet. And when Dad is asleep, you can hit him over the head with a chair and he wouldn't wake up. When I was a child I used to look at him when he was asleep and pretend to myself that he was dead to see how I'd feel.

So all Dad had to do was locate the spare room, identify the bed, lie on it, and that would be that until morning, when I would probably be feeling more communicative. But no sooner had I fallen asleep than he was waking me up again.

"What is it?" I said.

"Can I sleep with you?" he said plaintively.

His trousers were off, his teeth were out, and there was a bee on his head. To be perfectly honest I thought he'd gone radio rental.

"Why? What's the matter?" I said.

"I can't sleep in there," he said, gesturing dismissively towards the spare room. "It's full of bees."

"Full of bees?" I said.

"Yeah," he said. "You know. Bees."

I got out of bed again, went to the spare room and switched on the light. He wasn't making it up; there were about twenty bees in there, all buzzing about. More bees were drifting in sideways under the sash window.

"I can't sleep in here with all these f---ing bees," said Sid, whose sudden, unwonted encounter with raw nature seemed to have sobered him up somewhat.

I still had the right hump with him. Ringing me up like that at two in the morning like I was Jel's Cabs or something.

"A few bees won't hurt you," I said, shoving him back in the room. "If you're that worried about them, keep your head under the duvet."

It was a sultry night. I pulled up the sash window as far as it would go and went back to bed, leaving him to it.

The next time I woke up it was still dark. I could hear this pitiful wailing coming from the spare room. Right. That was it. I'd had enough. I flung back the covers, leaped out of bed and marched across to the spare room. I was going to throttle him to death with my bare hands and then go back to bed again. I'd dispose of the body in the morning.

As I approached his door, besides Sid's wailing I could hear a loud humming noise. I opened his door and switched on the light. The twenty or so original bees had increased to about a hundred million, and all of them seemed very excited, as if this was the highlight of their year. A sort of regional convention or something. There was a large, seething mass of them on top of the wardrobe and the rest were flying madly around the room.

Dad's toothless old head appeared from under the duvet.

"Help! Help!" he was yelling.

"Shut up and go back to sleep" I yelled above the din.

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