Yesterday and today.
Dreadful subterfuge is taking place in Mama’s absence.
WHO IS THE PRIME MINISTER? Bellows through the house.
(Ben is a bassist. And a counter tenor. Once described by his singing teacher as a “vocal terrorist”.
Ben and sotto voce have never really had a thing going together.)
YAY: GOOD BOY!
(Presumably, then, he received the required response, Bois. Not Nydell, as suggested by Mama for evasion when in a tight political corner.)
NOW, LET’S TRY THE OTHER WAY, SHALL WE?
WHO IS BORIS?
Pie meer, pipes up a little voice.
WELL DONE! BRILLIANT.
NOT, I hear Ben (who has somehow become Arnie Ben) gloss, in what presumably counts as an undertone, THAT THIS WILL BE USEFUL INFORMATION FOR VERY LONG.
Pie meer is quite an articulation challenge, when you are two.
I am demonstrating this current affairs parlour trick to Bink, when it comes out more like Nee-arr.
Bink is extremely impressed.
Did he say a***hole? she says, with some admiration.
Bink! A little bit more respect, please, for those in government over us.
(Even if it’s not for very long.)
Here you see the Little Viking’s star chart, as organised by Arnie Bin. The LV is very proud of his star chart.
He shows it to Mama and Papa over Facetime. He now talks of Mama and Papa whenever he fingers it.
Maybe Facetime is a mistake. Old-fashioned boarding schools never allowed contact with Mama and Papa at the beginning of term. For the first twenty four hours the LV seemed to forget M&P existed. After a clunky, frozen image of the two of them jerking occasionally at the bread basket or leering at the wine glasses, the lower lip trembles dangerously and we have to try again, interrupting the starter to talk to Ayex. Who, for some reason, is never Arnie Ayex.
(We are in Oldefar’s – Great-grandfather’s – room. Oldefar is far more mystified by Facetime than the LV is.)
Alex is with them? Bink says. Why didn’t they invite me?
Um... I say.
I could have hung out with Alex, she mourns.
(Maybe you and Alex sitting up late over beer and ciggies isn’t Serena’s idea of a holiday? And think about it. If you weren’t here looking after the LV, they couldn’t have gone at all.)
We all agree that Serena has much on her plate. Many demands on her.
But, Bink wails, that’s why I want to go and live with them, and look after him all the time.
(Dreadful thing about being a mother. No escaping it. Torn between your children.)
Well, you need to get a bit better, Bink.
Come off the Lorazepam and stuff.
I know, I know.
And then maybe offer again?
It is half past seven, and the little voice has just called Annie? the other side of my bedroom door.
Come in, Little Viking. Can you turn the handle?
He is with Arnie Bin. Someone has tidied his star chart and stickers away. He has earned two, Bink says encouragingly. A star and a whole happy cat.
A whole cat is for when he asks for the loo himself. Which, you will work out from his chart, he has done twice now. At this rate, he’ll be waking up with dry nappies soon.
(If I were Serena... If I had little children again... If I received such an offer… Put it this way: I was never a fan of nappies.)