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One moment he's staring out the window like a hypnotised gorilla. The next he's tucked me under his arm and is running to the car.

'Wait till you see this, boyo,' he fumes. 'This'll change your mind.'

At this stage, usually I still don't know what Dad's talking about.

Then we're screaming through amber lights, shouting 'up yours' to speed cameras, burning through the suburbs to the hobby farm.

Out in the country he seems to calm down a bit. But I'm not fooled.

My family is always exploding. I mean, not in a bad way, we don't have big fights or anything like that. There are only three of us anyway.

Not counting Dad, who lives in another house by himself. I visit him sometimes. Or go with him to his farm for the weekend. A lot of the time I live with Mum and Marilyn in our unit in Wellington Crescent.

The rest of the time I live with my best friend, Milford, who thinks I am a sad specimen, but he likes me. Puts up with me, anyway.

I appreciate it.

But back to my family. One night while we were eating dinner Dad said, 'Why is the television on?' and Mum said, 'Because I like to hear the news and know what's going on in the world,' and Dad said, 'Well, I have never liked the television on during mealtimes,' (which was news to us!) and he got up and left the table.

And left the house.

And never came back.

That's how it is in our family. Things just explode. Whatever happens in our family happens suddenly.

We can't even step out onto our patio without making a big deal about it.

Mum zips round and round the unit cleaning, cleaning, cleaning (I will stop when there aren't any germs left in the world!) Then she's got to have a smoke so she goes straight outside and lights up and paces around, looking at the view (I think).

Then she's inside again, nagging me about my bedroom.

I try to explain that rats are clean animals if they're given a chance, if they're in a healthy environment,

'Well, that's all right,' Mum says, 'as long as it is a healthy environment. But from what I've seen in your bedroom of late, not to mention the disgraceful mess on the top bunk, it's a wonder Rattus and Norwee don't abandon ship.'

Talking about ships...the only ship I've ever abandoned was the Time Cruiser I made out of Lego. It worked the first time, but after that it wouldn't work, no matter what. I was so disappointed I just put it quietly away in my built-in disaster cupboard and could never bring myself to go near it again.

 


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