When I was a youngster, as there were 5 of us kids then and Mam and Dad in a 2 bed terrace, I used to stay most of the time with my Nin (Grandad was on nights). God rest their souls.
Bloody had whatever it was that she was having at night - and first thing in the morning - to keep the cold away. She was an absolute stickler for cleanliness to the point of paranoia and remember one Sunday teatime she'd laid the table with best plates and china etc, we were having 6 ounces of boiled ham from the Maypole on Ashton Old Road, a few toms , radishes and my favourite salad (and still is!)peppery watercress.
Anyway, we were washing our hands at the kitchen sink (no bathrooms then in Lower Openshaw) and the back door was open onto the croft at the back where my GREAT-grandad (who lived next door to Nin and Grandad) kept his chickens. Middle of a working class heavily industrialised area and there is me Old Grandad (as I called him to differentiate between him and his son!) keeping friggin' chickens!! Lovely early summer evening it was and no-one noticed a manky and battle-scarred old tomcat slip into the room , vault up onto the table and grabbing his share of the Sunday tea! Well ferkin' murder broke out didn't it? Nin screaming like a banshee and Grandad trying to shoo the bleedin' cat off the table - but carefully like, without knocking any of the best china over while he's at it. I was pissing meself but trying not to show it yer know? So, eventually the cat gets the message that ain't welcome and with a gobful of the best boiled ham the Maypole sold, he does one and he's gone.
That was when the real entertainment started...
Me Nin does no more than gather up the bloody table cloth at all four corners , makes a swag-bag of it and its contents and staggers into the back yard and dumps the whole friggin' lot straight into the bin!! Grandad is appoplectic !! They start to row - I stop laughing now 'cos it isn't funny anymore. They never rowed in front of us kids so didn't know what to make of it. Anyway he rescues the bulk of the contents of the laid table - but not the bleedin' ham o' course which was contaminated with cat fleas, hairs, slaver out of the tomcat's gob, scabs off his arse and anything else that might have been in the bin. He boils some water and in complete and surreal silence, he proceeded to wash up the precious china like nothing had happened - which in the great scheme of things was of course exactly right. He'd sailed the Russian Arctic convoys with the Royal Navy during the war and seen much, much worse than that.
Peace broke out not long after but she was still verging on grief for the jettisoned, poisoned boiled ham and at the thought of having to handle that ferkin' table-cloth when it'd been near the cat's scabby arse.
So no more laughing was evident on that terrible Sunday evening disaster.
We ended up getting fish and chips from the Cross Keys on the Old road - and just in case of the unlikely and certainly unwelcome return of le tomchat, she shut and bolted the back door!!