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  • (WARNING: An adult story)
    I have realised that I am doing this for you, so you can get a clearer picture of who your much-maligned father was. I want to leave you with a complete picture of the man, but I am obviously not following convention by drawing the nose and the eyes first. You can start drawing a man wherever you want, begin with the feet if you want, it’s the end result that counts.

    I live all alone here in Edinburgh, have no real friends; I am not really devoid of self-knowledge, which Annie continuously informed me I was. I know that my unstoppable urge to talk to strangers is no proof that I am a gregarious or sociable chappie keen on being friends with everybody. I know that I don’t really engage with people; I doubt if anybody but the postman knows my name- again, he probably remembers me more as an Etch Ten.

    In my neighbourhood, I have seen my namesake Ian Rankin at Tesco’s in Holy Corner, where I also saw the chap who used to be Alastair Darling the Chancellor of the exchequer; it surprised me that those chaps did their own shopping; I sometimes see Ian McCall Smith on Bruntsfield road, outside the church where I am told he sometimes preaches; Robin Cook used to come for his papers at my newsagent’s before he died; I even saw J.K.Rowling, all in black, walking down the road by herself once; I would not have recognised her, but thought it strange for a well-dressed woman to be without a handbag, and when I looked more closely, I recognised her as the creator of Harry Potter, her dark glasses notwithstanding. I deduced that she had been advised not to carry a handbag, as if some mugger would suspect that she was carrying some of her millions in it and attempt a desperate snatch. I see all these worthies, who all live in the area; then I go home, look in the mirror, and see Mr
    Nobodyman! (It’s been two weeks since that mirror broke, and I have yet to buy a replacement.)

    I often have a drink in Mather’s in Broughton Road; why there, you wonder, isn’t it for supporters of Ross County? So what? Even Scunthorpe United is said to a dozen season ticket holders. It is at a good distance from Viewforth; no one knows me as anything other than an occasional patron and Bill the barman and other drinkers call me Ray, but no one knows I used to be Ray Rankin. I have never told anybody that I was an actor; they think that I am a retired academic; when they began calling me Professor, I did not contradict them. My old television serials are very much dead and buried, and although the three or four films in which I featured get the occasional airing, no one would dream that I am that Ray Rankin. I have changed quite drastically; I now look haggard, walk with a stoop and am full of wrinkles. I won’t hide from you that I have never recovered from your mum leaving me for the Big Ham. Few things in my life have hurt me more than when you constantly refer to him as “Dad”. He isn’t fucking dad, he’s just fucking mum!
    Do I think that I was a good dad to you? You bet I do; you were everything to me the pair of you; I enjoyed taking you to the park to kick a ball, taught you to ride a bicycle; I even taught myself to make a kite but Annie said you would catch your death in the cold winds. It was always my aim to be the best dad I could be, but I am sure you formed a poor opinion of me based entirely on what Annie said. Now, whilst I never used to say derogatory things about her in your hearing, she never deprived herself of the luxury of pointing out my many failings. What were you, four or five year olds, going to think? You never take cups and things off the table; you are so
    useless, when you do wash anything I have to do it again, so why bother? Nobody is that sloppy for fuck’s sake! If I am asleep you always bang the door, you never think of others; I remember doing this once. You listen to your operas on full blast. You never consider others! Either I put the newspapers away before she had had the opportunity of reading them, or, I never put the newspapers away; did I think that they would fly away into the rubbish bin of their own volition? Why am I compiling a list when you witnessed it all. But you are unaware of her failings, because I chose not to point them out to you. She was a lousy cook, not that she did much more than open tins and warm them up. She chain-smoked and never opened the windows. She made fun of me in front of friends, got a lot of mileage explaining how stupid I was; cocooned in a pod of self-pity whilst waiting for the agent to phone, was what she told friends about me - admittedly after a glass too many; I could never pick the right pair of socks, always one blue and one black; I wore my underpants back to front, never changed shirts if she didn’t tell me, believed that a shower meant wetting the front part of my body or the back, did not know how to brush my teeth, which was why I had halitosis, BO, the itches... It is too painful to harp on this aspect of my life, so I will not take that road any more. I am going to open the window and watch Lemuel the one-eyed gull tearing litter bags outside Le Mouton Noir.

    How I loved her though! I think she loved me too, once. You will remember that we met at Cambridge. I was only a moderate modern languages student, ending up with a Desmond in modern languages (I understand that that’s what a 2/2 is now called). She got a first. I am not making this up; she used to boast that if getting a better grade meant she had to shag any number of dons, it was a small price to pay. I told you that I was going to reveal everything, so I confess to sharing her view; in those days we believed that morality was overrated, that hedonism was everything. I also rather paradoxically and pompously proclaimed that the woman in such circumstances was a victim, therefore innocent and that the guilty one was he who was abusing his power. But there was nothing innocent about your mother.

    That woman across the street living on the third floor opposite, looks uncannily like her. As she lives one floor below me, and as light has that irksome habit of travelling in straight lines, I had to plan my coup. I ordered an expensive pair of binoculars from Amazon- an Eschenbach Farlux, prospected all possible positions and angles, and finally settled for the front sitting room, at the top right-hand corner of the window, where the curtains are beige; I only use them after dark, with the lights switched off. For some time now, I have been indulging in an activity I call Rear Windowing, or enjoying the delights of Annie Two’s rear and other contours, undetected. People wouldn’t know that I have no wicked designs on the woman, that it is not my intention to desecrate her person, so I do this surreptitiously; when I cross her on the street, I show nothing but respect for her; if she was attacked I would risk life and limb to defend her. But watching her undress gives me a lot of pleasure, one of the few still left, and does her no harm, so I feel no guilt. I have my technique for this little misdemeanour, I close the curtain, and peer into my Eschenbach Farlux through a cleverly constructed chink to my heart’s content.

    Your honour, would you also take into account that I confess to being a serial user of on-line porn before passing sentence.

    Pic: A sketch by Komachi Goto
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