When my old man was dying Harry was there, came to the ward every day with books, news of the latest racing, football, gossip, the lot. And when he couldn't get he'd make a tape for the old man to play, with Harry talking nonsense and cracking on, stupid old jokes and taking the piss about Hitler and Churchill and Dad in the desert. He'd sit by the bed and read him stories and bits of writing no one reads any more like Buchan and Cronin and people like that. They were uncommonly close though as a lad Harry would row about politics and the working class being dumb as oxen and once the old man fizzed up all purple and shouted You cheeky young get, and Mam came in saying, I'll not have language like that in my house. But they always made up and when Harry was away and not seen for years he'd sometimes ask about that cheeky young get as if he were a secret son, like a son he wished he's had, who was always free and loose and careless with life, someone fertile and common as fireweed who would spring up and flourish in any soil and turn a bit of derelict land to a purple pink paradise out of nothing but air and water and sunlight.