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A Shout From The Attic: Matt’s Cloak Of Invisibility

Ronnie Bray tells of the evening his son displayed a talent for "magic''.

Long before JK Rowling invented a Cloak of Invisibility for
her eponymous hero, Harry Potter, my son, Matt Bray, had one of his own. It was nothing special and in no way resembled the loose academic gown used as a barrier between their small clothes and the vast clouds of chalk dust generated by eccentric board-scribbling academics.

Matt’s Cloak of Invisibility was made of an archaic woollen
blanket. Oh well, I might as well come clean. It ’was’ an
archaic woollen blanket, unmodified in any way except as to
its use, and that employment was hatched in the desperate
shark-infested waters of my son’s need for a swift solution to
a pressing problem that did not involve any real work and
took only the merest amount of physical activity.

It came about as most innovation do, out of dire necessity, it
being recognised as the maternal parent of invention. Matt
and I, together with Inky the cat, were living at Roundway in
Honley, and ancient textile village built on an eminence that
rises up from the River Holme where the New Mill and
Holmfirth roads fork a few miles outside Huddersfield, in a
pleasing two-bedroom house that we rented from the
corporation.

My bedroom was hardly what could accurately be described as
tidy, but a casual glance could tell that there was an effort to
keep it mostly under control and in some semblance of good
order. Mat’s bedroom was another kettle of fish. However, if
he changed his socks regularly and as regularly washed his
feet, the fishy smell did not disturb the tranquillity of
unsuspecting visitors.

I tried to set a good example, and tutor Matt in tidiness, but
something in his genes made that difficult for him, as it had for
me for the greater part of my life. For it to apply to the lesser
part of my life I figure I will have to live to be at least ninety-five. Matt suffered little in the way of normal childhood
illnesses, which is, I believe, due in no small part to the
antibiotic effect of his early foot odour, and so it was with a
little reluctance that I invested in a pair of Odour-Eaters for
his long-suffering shoes, and my long-suffering nose. The
Odour-Eaters brought immediate and permanent relief which
is a tribute to the inventor of the shoe-borne miracle and must
surely put him in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize.

One Saturday morning I felt it was time for Matt, then aged
eleven, to tackle his bedroom and tidy up all his stuff. Not
only did Matt have a lot of stuff, but, like his father, he was
unable to let go of anything or throw out what was obviously
of no further interest. He was an avid collector, but not out of
volition. Rather he collected and hoarded instinctually,
having a powerful emotional investment in his objets d’musée.

“Time to tidy, Matt,” I said in a paternal tone, adding, “I’ll
inspect it in an hour’s time.”

“OK, Dad,” said Matt somewhat resignedly, being faced with a
task he found not only unpleasant but also life-interrupting.
He disappeared upstairs and I switched on the amplifier,
strapped on my guitar, opened the window, and introduced
Honley in general and the top end of Roundway in particular
to the joys of Country Music sung by a Yorkshireman in an
assumed Texas twang. “Everybody’s going out and having fun
… “

Three songs later, a face thrust itself in the window. It was
my neighbour from five doors down. That the face was
smiling I took as a good sign. He was the Concert Secretary of
Honley Workingmen’s Club, and he signed me up on the spot
for a poorly paid but welcome performance that very night.
The ‘turn’ – we called ourselves ‘artistes’ - they had booked
had given backword, and they were in a bind.

It wasn’t my first paid performance, but it was among the
first few and was very welcome, as was the twenty pounds
cash it paid.

When he had gone, I sang on, not noticing the passage of time
but knowing that it was a long way from the end of Matt’s
prescripted hour, so I was in no hurry to switch off and dash
upstairs to see the Elysian Field he would surely forge from
Stig’s normative habitat.

I was less than halfway through either Handel’s ‘Messiah’ or
else Don Gibson’s ‘Sea of Heartache,’ I forget which it was,
when the room door opened and a smiling Matt informed me
that his room was ready.

“This is a good day,” I mused. ‘I have been smiled at from the
doorway and from the window!” Little things please … never
mind!

Unhitching myself from my Grant Taiwanese copy of a Gibson
SG2000 guitar , I glanced at my watch. Less than fifteen
minutes had elapsed since he ascended to his errand, and I was nonplussed. Had he really effected the transmogrification of his sleeping quarters in such a short time?

He was an avid Dr Who fan and so perhaps he had invoked the
talents of the Time Lord to do something with the warp factor
of the second storey of number 144 Roundway without the
lower storey being affected!

“One should,” I muttered to myself as I took the stairs two at
a time, “Never underestimate the power of a genuine Time
Lord.”

Matt was ahead of me, and standing in the corridor he swung
his bedroom door open wide to show his handiwork. I
stepped inside and was amazed to actually see his bedside rug
and the linoleum, that only minutes before had been a foot
deep in comics and other arcane possessions that illuminate,
inform, and fashion boyhood. My amazement was short lived.

Matt had single-handedly and without the aid of either science
of alchemy invented the Cloak of Darkness, and this was his
‘Wand o’ Majik,’ so to speak, with which he had completed
the transformation of his room from the dump it had been
into a place fit for the most fastidious and finicky
bacteriophobe since the long thin one played by Tony Randall
in the Odd Couple.

Except – his invention didn’t work!

True to his long and sincerely held principle that if a thing is
worth doing, then someone else ought to do it, Matt had
shovelled the contents of his floor into the corner between his
wardrobe and the window and thrown the Cloak over it,
hoping, no doubt, that the ancient and time-honoured
principle of ‘If you can’t see it, then it isn’t there’ would
become effective and that somehow the blanket-covered heap
would escape detection by his ‘miss-nowt’ Dad. It didn’t.

Although his Majik Cloak did not achieve its intended effect, it
did reduce me to a helpless heap of laughter on the floor, and
anything that can transform a stern disciplinarian into a
totally diverted shaking gummy mass must have some power
unknown to the scientific community.

I forgot the chore, Matt marked up a triumph, and we went
arms-around-shoulders together to celebrate with fish and
chips.





WELCOME

001 HERITAGE

002 INTROS

003 ANCESTRY

004 THAT'S MY HOME

005 FATHER

006 MOTHER

GRANDFATHER HAROLD BENNETT

NANNY MARGARET ANN MYERS

GRANDFATHER OLIVER BRAY

GRANDMOTHER LENA WILLIS

AUNTIE NORA BENNETT STEAD

CHILDHOOD

THE MANTONS

SCHOOL

WAR!

BOYHOOD

FAITH

YOUTH AND CONFUSION

WORK

IN THE ARMY

PROSELYTING MISSION

THE ESME YEARS

THE ARMY 1960 - 1961

FROM CASTLE TO DUNGEON AND OUT AGAIN

RETURN TO ZIN

CHURCH BUILDING MISSION

THE JERRY YEARS

THE MUMMY-DADDY YEARS

THE JUNE YEARS

CAFE SOCIETY

THE CHRISTINE YEARS

HONLEY

THE LYN YEARS

FAITH RESTORED

THE NORMA YEARS

LIFE WITHOUT NORMA

KEIKO

PAGE 6

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PAGE 11

BIO PICS



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