Thank you all for your kind comments on my children’s singing. Just as well you did because my mother has still not inspected the winsome mites on Youtube. True, she is a little dubious about the computer and all its works. True, also, she had them sing live to her on the telephone but that is not the same thing at all. Her defence is that she has had a busy weekend, what with the rugby and everything. This is, clearly, no defence at all; she should have struck to berating the computer which, in my parents’ house, is known as the monster in the study. She has, however, started the book I gave her for her birthday. My sister-in-law recommended it to me and lent me her copy; a decision, I suspect, she now regrets as I still have it in my grubby little mitts. Lest there be any confusion, I hasten to clarify that my mother got a span new copy. A copy she has been reading with interest. It is set in the 1930s and is a series of funny tales (I think “gently humourous” is the kind of expression the blurb writers would go for) about the fictional diarist’s life in the English countryside with her husband and two daughters. “It really,” said my mother “gives you a feel for a period, it reminds me of Di Lampedusa“. As I told her, I suspect that this is the first time this comparison has been made.
This morning the joys of communal living were manifest from 6.00. Normally we wake our building when the children start screaming at 7.30. However, the students on the top floor were going away and spent their time from 6.00 huffing and puffing up and down with ski gear. It appeared that the best way to get poles down was to fling them into the stairwell and let them bounce to the ground floor while laughing manically the while. Maybe it just sounded that way.
We took ourselves to a museum to let the boys run around and work up an appetite for a nap. Is there anything more appealing than a large museum with few visitors, endless corridors and enormous rooms filled with odd items? Usually this museum is empty but today, we coincided with a series of activities to celebrate the Year of the Rat and a distressing number of people were milling about in the foyer. Happily, they all appeared to want to sign up for calligraphy demonstrations and we were allowed to inspect the exhibition of miniature Chinese houses in peace. We also admired Cinderella’s carriage in splendid isolation. All in all, it was a very satisfactory morning, the only crisis was caused by one of the bottles we had brought for the boys leaking all over the bag it was in and my husband’s jumper. Daniel pointed to the wet floor and said sagely “Michael spill actimel“. (Actimel is the work of Satan, the kids all love it because of its knacky little bottle and then they can’t get their mouths round it and spill it down their fronts. Every time I give them a bottle, the two lads say “very careful”. I digress.) On leaving, the foyer was still heaving and, in a very Belgian way, the lady in the cloakroom was refusing coats (see proof they’ve never had this many people before). “It’s full, I’ve already said it’s full, go away, do you expect me to hang your coats on the wall?” she said angrily to a crowd of innocent punters who, having purchased their tickets, were not going to be let into the museum until they had divested themselves of their coats, something Madame in the cloakroom was steadfastly refusing to allow them to do. All that was missing to make it a classic Belgian scene was for someone to start complaining about the linguistic regime.
Tomorrow is the start of mid-term. Herself has been signed up for a week long course of sport to which she is looking forward with all the enthusiasm of a condemned prisoner. It’s a bit difficult to get to and the hours are different from school, leading to some logistical difficulties. When the boys were in the bath this evening I explained at tremendous length to my husband that, if I had to leave work early to collect herself I would prefer it to be Thursday because I have a lot on tomorrow and then I’ll have to leave a bit early on Tuesday, because it’s pancake Tuesday and we’ll be making pancakes and then I’ll be a bit frantic but, if on the other hand, I collect her on Thursday, I can get a good run on things on Monday, leave calmly on Tuesday and, by Thursday, all should be well for me to knock off a little early and collect herself, but, on the other hand, if I did have to collect her tomorrow, then he should let me know because I would take the car to work. He said, “what, sorry, I wasn’t listening, do you want to get her tomorrow or Thursday?” “Thursday”, I said, a shade coldly.
In our continuing efforts to illustrate to our sons that they both have a mother and a father and that they have not each been assigned to a particular parent, I took Daniel rather than Michael out of the bath again. My impudence was greeted with an outburst of angry weeping from Michael. I explained firmly that I am Daniel’s Mama too. “NO! Daddy, Daniel’s Mama!” he said. I think we have a mountain to climb here.
And finally, did you see that Carla and Sarko got married over the weekend? Maybe they should have waited until the Year of the Rat started. Don’t be like that, it’s supposed to be auspicious for marriages.