Normally in bed by this time, I was barely awake. Being dragged down the promenade by my mother. Crashing sea to one side of us, flashing amusements to the other. Confusing. I had pins and needles in my foot. I must’ve slept on it funny in the bus on the way. ‘Do you see the Divebombers?’ Mam kept asking. I did. On the outskirts of the official amusement park, in a desolate clearing between Freddy’s Casino and Alonzo’s chipper. . . DIVEBOMBERS! Two chambers of death suspended high in the air by creaky rusty arms. Burning rubber stank off the massive fan belts whirring through the chugging spluttering tractor engine at the base. Chamber occupants screamed as they were violently yanked into the starry skies and then mercilessly flung to earth. ‘Deadly’.
Two Rory Gallagher look-a-likes collected fares from a queue of happy nervous victims. One of the Rory Gallaghers wore a denim jacket with Horslips patches on it. He was smoking a Major. My father. ‘Serge, Serge’, Mam called out to him. (She called him Serge but I could’ve sworn the other lad called him Proinsias.) My father’s eyes bulged when he spotted us, the way people’s eyes bulge when they push open a cubicle door and find you banging up. His head was the same shape as mine. The wrong shape. My parents spoke for a bit in that frequency kids can’t access. My father took me over to a candy floss stand. It was seven pence for a candy floss. He asked me if I had fourteen pence. I did, my savings for a Judge Dredd comic. I gave it to him and he bought a candyfloss for me and a candyfloss for Mam. Mam was delighted when he handed over hers but he kept picking bits off it for himself so she got nearly none. I didn’t like mine and missed that week’s Judge Dredd story.
We spent that summer with my father in his old caravan. He was out working all the time. Mam and I went to the beach for cold swims but spent most days indoors, listening to the rain belting off the tinny roof and playing I Spy.
The summer pissed off before anyone really noticed it had arrived. There were less people about the town and the water got colder and colder. My father didn’t come back one night and then didn’t come back the next day. A man came to the door and asked us for money for the caravan. Mam didn’t have any and he started shouting. We got the bus back to Nana’s house. A passenger started talking to Mam and told her how a Divebomber came loose the night before. ‘It came right off and landed on the candy floss stand’, the passenger said all gleeful, ‘three dead and they say the same thing happened in the Isle of Man last year’. My mother went pale. I never found out what happened to Judge Dredd that week.