Monday, 12 August 2013
Monday, 4 April 2011
I kept a diary for about three years from 1980. I think I was trying to emulate the behaviour of my eldest brother Anthony who had begun a similar endeavour a year or so earlier. I singularly failed to achieve that since my diary peters out into patchy snippets around mid-1983 whereas, I believe, Anthony is still going with his.
Sunday, 3 April 2011
Chapter 7: Mrs Trumblebuggins has a Crumpet
Later that day, Mr Trumblebuggins and Mr Catchratter sat at the kitchen table of the Trumblebuggins’s house.
The day had not been a great success. Mr Catchratter had barely escaped from Crackpot Junior School, Mr Trumblebuggins had had a long and difficult conversation at the police station about what had happened at the Corkscrew’s house that morning, and worst of all, as far as Mrs Trumblebuggins was concerned, Olly and Cynthia were still not able to go back to school.
Mr Trumblebuggins and Mr Catchratter sat in silence. Upstairs they could hear the heavy tread of Mrs Trumblebuggins as she put Olly and Cynthia to bed. She was not in a good mood.
The occasional yell or scream could be heard from above. Mr Trumblebuggins was unsure if the noises were coming from his wife or his children.
There was a clatter of feet on the stairs and Olly and Cynthia appeared together at the door of the kitchen, dressed in last year’s Halloween costumes. Ollie was wearing his werewolf mask and Cynthia had vampire teeth, dripping with what Mr Trumblebuggins hoped was only tomato ketchup.
Moments later there was another yell from upstairs and Olly and Cynthia made a run for the front door. Mrs Trumblebuggins had had the good sense to close every bolt and turn every key on the door to prevent their escape. Before Olly and Cynthia got halfway through undoing all the locks and bolts, the shapeless form of Mrs Trumblebuggins rushed down the stairs and grabbed them by their ears.
Mrs Trumblebuggins appeared at the door of the kitchen, a child suspended from each hand.
“This is what I mean, you nincompoops,” she said, addressing Mr Trumblebuggins and Mr Catchratter. “These two horrors are even worse since they got chucked out of that school.”
“Not possible,” muttered Mr Catchratter under his breath.
“What was that you said, Sidney Catchratter?” demanded Mrs Trumblebuggins.
Mr Trumblebuggins looked down at his hands, suddenly fascinated by the state of his nails as Mrs Trumblebuggins advanced on Mr Catchratter, a child swinging from each hand.
She leaned down until her nose was an inch from his.
“Well?” she said.
“Nothing, nothing…” mumbled Mr Catchratter.
Mrs Trumblebuggins stood up straight again.“I’m taking these two up to their beds,” she said. “Where they will stay!” she continued, glaring first at Olly and then at Cynthia. “And then I will come down here and one of you useless men will make me a cup of tea and toast me a crumpet. Do you think either of you can manage that?”
Mr Catchratter and Mr Trumblebuggins nodded silently.
And, with that, she marched back upstairs with the children.
The two men sat in silence for a few moments more.
“Not happy, is she?” said Mr Catchratter eventually.
“No,” said Mr Trumblebuggins. “I noticed that too. I’ll put the kettle on.”
Saturday, 11 September 2010
Ever since Zack has been able to communicate, he's been making us laugh. Or yell at him. Sometimes at the same time. And because we know that we'll forget those unmissable remarks if we don't write them down we, well, wrote them down.
"I don't want a nappy on! I just want my willy!" (September 2004 - when declining invitation to put his bottom away before sitting down for dinner)
"I be queen!" - anytime when wearing a hat / crown, Summer 2004
"My willy poked down?" - anytime when first weeing on toilet (October 2004)
"What's that kind of thing?" - when shown a picture of Hannah's Dad (September 2004)
"Got to close the door and put sellotape on it so the squirrels don't get in" (when using the downstairs toilet) - February 2005
Hannah: "Zack, drink some more milk sweetheart"
Zack: "Yes, that will cheer me up!".
On seeing a present for Julia Neylan: "I'm going to help Julia share this with me". (February 2005)
"Who turned the rain on?" - March 2005
"Did you buy me a yoyo at yoga?" - March 13 2005
"No, not tomorrow! Today after bed! "- May 2005
When discussing visitors: "Sometimes when I want someone to go home, that's why I don't play very nicely" - June 2005
Zack: "I don't want to be a grown up"
Hannah: "Why not?"
Zack: "I don't want to have to say the days of the week"
(a very tired boy is being invited to have his face washed for bedtime)
"Can I have two face washes in the morning?"
When Rachel was talking about the death of Coty, the Russo family dog: "Maybe he went to a war or something?" - April 2006
(when eating his chocolate Easter Eggs)
"Can I stop when I feel sick?" (Easter 2006)
Zack: "I don't want to be a grown up?"
Hannah: "Why not?"
Zack: "Because I won't know what kind of deodorant to buy". (May 2006 - a subject frequently vexed over for some weeks until he was reassured that it would be fine to buy the same one that Daddy has if he wanted).
(to Rachel): "When you die you can't have dinner any more. Or lunch" - June 2006
(standing in the kitchen with a carrot he's about to give to Cookie the Rabbit): "If this has been in Rachel's mouth is it still OK to give it to Cookie?" - June 2006
"Don't take your mind out of your head." - July 2006
"I thought I had only one nipple but I've got two." - July 2006
"Was I such a gigantic baby because I had a birthday when I was in mummy's tummy?" - July 2006
Hannah: "Can you think of an animal that starts with N?"
Zack: "A Nairnog".
"Rachel, let me show you what I want. This is really the bestest thing in the whole wide world!" (the toy iron, and ironing board, and matching apron from the ELC catalogue).
"When I grow up I wonder who will be my twin?" - July 2006
Rachel and Zack discussing birthdays
Rachel: "Baby Jesus was born on Christmas day!"
Rachel: "That means his birthday was on Christmas!"
Zack: "Yes, so he had to wait AGES to get his presents". - August 2006
At an impromtu breath-holding competition in the back garden:
Rachel: "I held my breath for 8 seconds!"
Hannah: "I held my breath for 46 seconds!!!!"
Zack: "And you didn't even die! - August 2006
Zack: "Mummy, last night I had a bad dream".
Hannah: "Did you, Boo Boo? What happened in it?"
Zack: "I dreamed that my favourite colour wasn't blue anymore!"
Hannah: "…. oh. What was your favourite colour?"
Zack: "Green". - August 12 2006
(when he had a bit of a cold)
"I've got a frog in my nose" - November 2006
Zack: Do you get to choose what you want to be when you grow up?
Hannah: …. well, sort of.
Zack: Good. Because I don't want to be an astronaut.
Hannah: OK, that's fine. You don't have to be an astronaut then.
Zack: Do you want to know why I don't want to be an astronaut?
Hannah: Yes. Why?
Zack: Because I don't know how to walk on the moon.
Hannah: ..... well, that's OK. But you know I don't think anyone knows how to do the job they'll do when they're a grown up when they're four.
Zack: Well, I still don't want to be an astronaut. Because I don't want to walk on the moon. (December 06)
During a game of "when you're X years old, I'll be X-1" with Rachel...
Zack: How old will you be mummy when I'm 90?
Hannah: (deep breath)... well, I'll be..... 119
Zack: And how old will Daddy be?
Hannah: Umm.. about 125
Zack: Actually, you'll both be dead. (January 07)
Zack: Do you know why I'm eating so much?
Hannah: No. Why is that?
Zack: Because I want my tummy to be as big as Mr Greedy's. (Jan 07)
I think I've got dried up water in my ears - February '07
"When can we have paper money for pocket money?" - March 2007
"My legs are too long" - May 2007
Zack: Mummy, how many lily beetles/bridges/deer/apple trees are there in the world?
Hannah: I've no idea
Zack: But how many do you think there are?
Hannah: I really don't know Zack
Zack: No, but mummy, how many do you think there are? etc. etc. (May 2007)
"When are we going to move? Because I really want to move. And when we move, I want my own bedroom with table football in it. And if we saved all our money, and all our pocket money, couldn't we move then?" - May 2007
"I need to touch under my armpits but it will tickle too much" - June 2007
"I've got two things a spy needs. I've got a torch and a book to read in case I get bored." - October 2007
"I swam across the pool and I only touched the bottom three times and I didn't have any floats, just my trunks" - April 2008
(upon completing a construction of old cereal boxes and other bits raided from recycling)
Zack: "If we make all these things from recycling then we won't need to put out any stuff next week"
Mike: (pointing at rocket): "Well, what are we going to do with that?"
Zack: "Shoot it into space and it can be the home for an alien?" - April 2008
Monday, 30 August 2010
Zack has a fascination with money. In part I mean the common or garden lure of the lucre that affects most of us to some extent, but what I'm actually getting at is his fascination with the physical thing that is money.
Sunday, 4 July 2010
I'm proud to report that Zack bagged his first major summit the other day, reaching the top of the highest of the Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan. At 2907 feet, this was comfortably the highest peak he had ever ascended. Actually, the only other two summits he had conquered were the slightly less daunting challenges of Robinswood Hill and Orrest Head, so this was quite the achievement.
Thursday, 13 May 2010
We got the late plane from Melbourne to Hong Kong the other night, leaving the city at 10:50pm. We had a rather lovely time in Melbourne for our last day in Australia, trying to enjoy the time as much as possible, without reflecting too much on the fact that this was the final hours of the expedition. After driving the 90 or so miles up from Phillip Island that morning, we spent a good part of the day on the city's excellent free tram service which circulates around the city centre. With no specific objective in mind we nosed around the city's market (from which, it boasts, you can buy anything - which is true if by "anything" you mean a wide selection of fruit and veg) and from there to the central shopping centre which houses an oversized fob watch that plays an insipid and barely audible version of "Waltzing Matilda" (accompanied by a dozen or so nodding cockatoos and rosellas, of course). With no plan and Melbourne offering not much in the way of eye-catching iconic views or must-see destinations, we just mooched around pleasantly, trying to ignore the forthcoming night flight.
It's true to say that we expect quite a bit from Rachel and Zack when we're travelling (I can hear you nodding from here, Grandma) but it's probably never more true than when we have a night flight. We expect them to press on gamely past their normal bedtime and deal with all the many and varied eventualities that international airline travel can spring on you with equanimity. But last night proved almost a step too far. Between arriving at the airport and boarding our flight nearly three hours later, we had seven (count them) mini-catastrophes. None of these problems ever seriously threatened our chances of getting the flight, but together, they hit poor Rachel pretty hard.
I won't enumerate all our woes, but they involved a mixture of getting lost on the way to the airport, forgetting to fill up the hire car with petrol (turns out that the nearest petrol station to Melbourne Airport is on the way out of the airport, not the way in. Nice one Melbourne), walking rather too far with enough bags to sink a ship and having various credit cards declined for various critical last minute payments. It was during my eventually futile attempt to purchase Hong Kong dollars at a Bureau de Change that Rachel ran up to me and said she was about to throw up.
The poor thing had not only had to endure the stress of the various misfortunes that had beset us, but had also been expected to carry her overstuffed hand luggage up hill and down dale as we struggled to find a way out of Australia. And all this many hours past her normal bedtime on a day when she had marched around a good part of Melbourne. Call it child abuse if you will, but we were just trying to show her a good time. Sort of.
Thankfully, Rachel recovered herself without leaving behind any calling cards in any of the rubbish bins of the airport (which looked imminent at one point) and her heaving guts settled down in time for us to rush through security and on to the plane for a nine hour night flight to the strange new place that is Hong Kong.