Summer 1976, the cupboards

I was awake late, reading. Jim was asleep in his bed. I was lying on my bed, with the light pointing onto the book and the pillow. The rest of the room was dark. I had the radio on, the after midnight show on Capital. I heard a loud crash from one of the other rooms, from the living room or the kitchen. I turned the radio off and listened for a few seconds. It was quiet and I decided to go and see what had happened.

Dad was standing in the hall. The noise had woken up him and Mum.

“Did it wake you up too?” he asked

“No, I was still awake.”

We were whispering. We were looking towards the living room door and we went towards it without saying much more. Dad pushed the living room door open, turned on the light, and we waited. It didn’t sound like there was anyone there. He went in first and I was just behind him. Nothing. We moved across the room so that we could see into the kitchen, but were well away from the door-frame. There was no door between the kitchen and the living room. It didn’t look like there was anyone there. Dad stepped forward and turned on the kitchen light. We saw very quickly what had happened and both sighed. I didn’t realize that I’d been holding my breath.

The cupboard had fallen down, the cupboard just on your left as you go in. It had fallen straight down and knocked down the picture of the Sacred Heart on the way. We looked inside. None of the plates inside was broken but one of the cups had tipped over and was cracked. We had to throw it away. The picture of the Sacred Heart was fine. Dad hung it back on the hook.

“Fancy a cup of tea?” he asked.


We sat up for a while drinking tea and talking about what I was reading. I told him the title, “Rogue Male” by Geoffrey Household. He didn’t recognize it. I started to tell him the story. He knew it and started to tell me what happened in the end, until I asked him not to.

“Jeez, I read that years ago. I’ve often wondered what it was called. ‘Rogue Male’, eh?”

We were both in our dressing gowns, sat round the kitchen table. I often stayed up late that summer, talking to my Mum, drinking tea while we were sat round the same table, but this was the only time Dad and I chatted till late over a cup of tea. By the time we’d finished it was after 1.30. I had hoped to finish the book before I went to sleep but I didn’t. I finished it the next morning.