Thursday, November 4, 2010

This is my 'Tooth Fairy' assignment - 500 words.

The Mafia used violin cases to disguise their sub-machine guns. I used a violin case to disguise my boxing kit.
“Orchestra rehearsal tonight!” I would call cheerfully as I left the house – and that would be enough to deter Dad. He’d attended one of our school concerts – once – and swore never again.
“I’m surprised the RSPCA didn’t turn up,” he’d said. “It sounded as though you were torturing small furry animals.” He’d snored through Hayden’s ‘Surprise’ Symphony until the crashing chord that gives the piece its name had caused him to fall off his seat. So my violin case was like a crucifix and garlic to a vampire.
If he’d known I was boxing for the school, he would have been there at ringside, offering unsolicited advice – and criticism. Some boys welcomed family support, they said it gave them a lift. I dreaded it; every slip, every punch I walked into would be noted and faithfully repeated in detail to visiting relatives for weeks to come. Perhaps he was genuinely concerned or merely amused, either way I found it excruciating so I kept him away – with the violin case.
Football wasn’t a problem; inter-school matches were played on mid-week afternoons when Dad was at work. And he had no interest in my evening badminton matches and yet ironically, it was badminton that caused the problem. I played in the school ‘doubles’ team and was a notorious ‘poacher’, diving around the court and stealing shots I should have left to my partner. To my mother’s consternation, I would arrive home with stitches over my eyebrow or a plaster over my nose after getting in the way of my partner’s backswing.
“Have you been boxing again?” she would ask anxiously.
One night, after tasting my partner’s racquet, I went home with a fat lip and a loose tooth. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time because I was scheduled to box at Walsall Town Hall the next night. This was before the days of mouth guards and head guards so I prepared to say goodbye to my loose tooth.
Amateur boxing at schoolboy level would not normally interest the local newspaper so there was little chance of my father or anyone else reading about it. The Walsall Observer, however, thought this tournament was a special case and had sent both reporter and photographer to follow the progress of one David Astley who the previous year had reached the All-England Finals at Wembley. This year Astley was hotly tipped to become All-England champion. Tournament matches were made by drawing names out of a hat, rather like the barrier draw for the Melbourne Cup: I had drawn Astley.
I lost the bout of course – and the tooth. There was no point in telling my folks I’d lost the tooth at orchestra rehearsal, walking into a trombone slide perhaps or the prodding bow of a double bass, so I just mumbled something about my careless badminton partner and went to bed.
Nothing was said over the weekend about the missing tooth but when I awoke on Monday morning, I found a newspaper clipping on my pillow. The fight had made headline news on the sports page, or rather, Astley had made headline news. I’d just been the fall guy, literally.
I went downstairs and saw Dad reading at the kitchen table.
“Who left this?” I asked sheepishly.
Dad just shrugged. “It must have been the tooth fairy,” he muttered and went on reading the remains of The Walsall Observer.


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