It was Boogar who kind of made me even things out.
That's an odd name you're thinking.
Well, Boogar is my invisible friend and he's been in and out of my life since childhood and Boogar first made himself known when I was eight.
I'd been given a good hiding for not eating up all my dinner and then locked in my bedroom till I stopped crying and calmed down.
It was an injustice and I had felt betrayed by my mother - weren't parents supposed to care for their offspring?
The whole unhappy situation had arisen because my mother had been talking to 'precious' Neville's mother about how I didn't eat all my dinner and Neville's mother had retorted haughtily: "Neville ALWAYS eats all his food, EVEN the greens!"
My status sensitive mother had felt diminished by this remark - I had indirectly and unintentionally let her down.
So, the next time I had been unable to finish my meal I had been given a good beating and then thrown into my room.
I was still sobbing when Boogar appeared. I say appeared but more like I became aware of his presence. I mean, I can't actually see Boogar but where he is, reality distorts, kind of like a fold in the space time continuum - sort of.
I know also that Boogar is the same age as me and that our destinies are entwined.
I have to say that I’m pretty certain that Boogar has my best interests at heart but he has done some pretty weird things in the past...
I remember on one occasion Mum coming up stairs to find me with my head down the loo and my hair soaking wet after having the chain repeatedly pulled.
"Matt! What on earth are you up to?!" she had bellowed.
"My invisible friend is bullying me!" I had retorted.
"Go and dry your hair - there are all sorts of germs in that bowl. Sometimes I don't think you are right in the head!" She had then gone off tutting.
Most of the time, however, Boogar gets things sorted for me.
I have digressed a bit. Back to the locked bedroom...
There I am sniffling and feeling very sorry for myself when I became aware of Boogar for the very first time.
Boogar wasn't, as you would expect for an eight-year-old, as articulate as he is now but he conveyed to me that what had just happened wasn't right, and that things had to be balanced.
"It was natural justice," he added.
He then instructed me on what I had to do.
I told him that what he had in mind was wrong and that two wrongs don't make a right, just as we had been recently taught in school by the vicar.
But Boogar was vehement: "Two wrongs do make a right!"
You see, that's the difference between me and Boogar: I'm quite mild and meek and people plainly take advantage of me whereas Boogar, well, Boogar just doesn't put up with any shit at all!
So, Boogar reveals his plan and what is expected of me and though a bit nervous I agree to go through with it.
Right, my Mum used to have a miniature poodle named, of all things, Wagner.
How could you have any animal less Wagnerian?! Ride of the Valkyries - yes. Ride of the Poodles - nah!
And I still, after all this time, retain a vision of winged poodles.
Not only that, Wagner, was the 'house' composer of the Nazis - can you imagine any self-respecting member of the Master Race associating with a Poodle, a German Shepherd, yes... but a Poodle.
I suppose I ought to explain about my mother:
Mum was an art teacher at the local private school, and she was also very much into architecture and classical music. We lived in a modest-ish three-bedroom Georgian house in Sunset Road which had been part of the divorce settlement with my father John; who I can vaguely remember as he left when I was about eighteen months old.
My grandparents resided in John Street and would look after me when Mum couldn't - not that often I add.
My mother's name was Shirley, and she was originally from Manchester though she tried to downplay her origins by affecting a middle class Southern English tone - sometimes she would forget herself and revert back to her natural accent before correcting herself halfway through a sentence - I found that quite amusing as got older.
I think, on the other hand, I let her down with my strong Isle of Wight twang.
Anyway, she absolutely adored Wagner the poodle which I couldn't understand as Wagner was flea bitten and half bald - Kojak had more hair, and the fur that it did possess was discoloured, a sort of peachy tone instead of white.
It had blackheads on its stomach and was yappy and ill tempered - even the cat, Stravinsky, used to bully it.
Forgive me whilst I digress yet again - I've just remembered a couple of incidents involving Stravinsky and Wagner...
Stravinsky was a male tabby tom and could be quite vicious at times. One morning at the breakfast table Mum said: "Where's Wagner? He should be down by now!"
Wagner used to sleep with my mother during the night on her bed I hasten to add.
Quite often Mum would get up first, get dressed, go downstairs and then Wagner would follow a few minutes later.
But on this particular morning Wagner had failed to turn up.
"Be a dahling, Mitt, and see where he has got to?"
I got up and went to the hallway and was about to ascend the stairs when I espied Stravinsky lying on the top step. Wagner was behind him, and it was obvious Stravinsky was deliberately blocking his way.
I can now imagine Stravinsky, football hooligan style, taunting him: "Try and get past Wagner, if you think you're hard enough!"
Wagner was quivering and I could see he was desperate to get down to the security and warmth of the kitchen - these were the days before universal central heating.
I called to Wagner, and he wagged his little stump of a tail, perked up confidence and trotted past Stravinsky. As he did so Stravinsky casually swiped him with his paw with just enough force to propel Wagner forward causing his front legs to buckle under his body. Wagner then slid down the eleven or twelve steps banging his chin on each one prior to hitting the flag stone floor with a sickening crunch. Wagner looked a bit concussed but surprisingly was still in one piece - worse luck!
On another occasion Stravinsky was resting languidly on the rocking chair in the kitchen when Wagner wandered underneath. Stravinsky was obviously outraged at the audacity of it - how dare Wagner intrude upon his space! Stravinsky then clawed repeatedly at Wagner's back removing clumps of fur - which may have explained why Wagner was going bald - and then finally biting him.
Actually, I think Wagner may have had the last laugh at that one because Stravinsky became ill shortly after for a while: vomiting and feverish. He probably contracted an unknown virus from Wagner's scabby back.
Back to the tale!
A few days later the opportunity arose - remember at Booger's instigation, not mine. I waited one morning for my Mum to put the washed empty milk bottles out at the front door. She then went upstairs for some reason. Wagner was still in the kitchen in his stinking wicker basket, asleep. I very quietly undid the latch on the front door and then stole into the kitchen. I picked up Wagner and fortunately he didn't struggle - he was heavy for me, an eight-year-old, and made for the kitchen door. All the time I was listening out for my mother, but she was occupied with whatever she was doing upstairs, making beds or cleaning. I got out of the kitchen and into the hallway where the front door was. I then shoved Wagner out onto the busy street being careful not to click the latch shut. I then went into the lounge to pretend to play with my train set which I had put out the previous day. It must have been a weekend or school holiday because I can't recollect having to prepare for school - it is a long time ago.
A few minutes later I heard the screeching of tyres and then my Mum running down the stairs. I think she may have thought it was me.
The next thing she's cradling Wagner's limp and broken body in her arms and she's crying. She asked me what happened, and I told her that I didn't know as I was playing with my trains. Suddenly she realised that the door hadn't been closed properly when she'd rushed out - the beginning of years of self-recrimination.
"How could I be so careless? I've murdered Wagner!" she wailed.
Actually, the school orchestra once 'murdered' Wagner too years later!
Still, I couldn't believe how well things had turned out by trusting in Boogar. It was just so satisfying to know I had gained revenge on my mother and in such a subtle way - though I didn't really appreciate that till later. And it would be a long time till she forgave herself.
On the other hand, I'd probably done Wagner a favour by prematurely putting an end to his miserable existence.
Anyway, Mum duly buried Wagner in the back garden.
Funny enough, I think Stravinsky missed Wagner - he had no one to terrorise.
Shortly after, Mum bought home a parrot whom she named Beethoven.
I tried to teach Beethoven a few sentences but the only phrase he picked up, in a posh accent, for some strange reason was: "Stop bithering me Mitt, you aggriviting little shit!"
But we didn't hear that for too long - a cheap second-hand cage with a dodgy catch saw to that!
One afternoon I returned from school to find exotic-coloured feathers scattered all over the lounge and Beethoven partially consumed under the television stand.
There could only be one culprit and I can recollect Mum saying later that day: "It mist have been Stravinsky because he hisn't eaten all his Kit-E-Kat, why do cits have to be so cruel?"
But, the wheel of karma kept revolving because the next-door neighbour, a government scientist, owned a gay Rottweiler - please don't smirk - called Einstein.
I didn't really know at my age what 'queer' implied, but Mum kept going on about it because Einstein, apparently, was forever attempting to shag Wagner - this was before he met his 'timely' death.
Our back gardens were divided by a privet hedge which was easily and often breached by Einstein.
I was there when Mum came out and caught Einstein one time pinning down a whimpering Wagner and attempting to 'roger' him. Mum threw a bucket of cold water over them, and Einstein retreated back to his own garden.
What we think happened was that Einstein tried the same thing on with Stravinsky and that Stravinsky retaliated by clawing him in the eye, enraging Einstein who then shook Stravinsky so violently by the neck that he managed to break it.
Nobody can be really certain about the circumstances, but Stravinsky had been found with a broken neck next door and Einstein's eye had been slashed.
Mum had a big row with the next-door neighbour, Will - whose surname was Barrow - about the incident.
They were arguing over the hedge, and I recollect Mum telling (in a posh accent to affect superiority) Mister Barrow that: "If it's not bad enough thit Einstein is a bloody queer ripist, he's also a ficking psychopith!"
Will had countered by stating that: "I'd just about had enough of Stravinsky shitting in my vegetable patch anyway!"
It was very tense between the two neighbours however an uneasy peace eventually prevailed, but that wheel of karma just kept on a turning...
A couple of months later Einstein savaged an Avon Lady - I can just visualise that encounter...
'Bing Bong' "Avon calling," announced in saccharine tones followed almost immediately by snarling and screaming!
There was a court case and Einstein was ordered to be put down - which he duly was.
Einstein's body was brought back to his home in a wheelbarrow, by Will Barrow and buried in his back garden.
Reflecting back on it that little area of Ryde came close to rivalling Westminster Abbey: Three great composers... DE-composing in our garden... and arguably the greatest scientist of all, relatively speaking, of all time interred next door.
Sorry, I went off at a bit of a tangent there.
So, that was the beginning of Boogar entering my life, and it had worked out alright though: Mum had suffered guilt about Wagner for a long time after, but it was her own fault as Boogar reminded me because she had treated me harshly and unjustly.
Boogar has stepped in on more than a few occasions since when I've needed him, and I’ll share a few more tales about him in due course - if you think that's wrong then remember Boogar's words: Two wrongs do make a right!