Sunday 23 January 2011

Not a great day

15st 8lb, 5.5 units. My digital radio started playing up this morning, as I was listening to Betty off Coronation Street telling the story of her horribly loveless childhood to Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs. No sooner had it got to work again than it fell off the tall chest of drawers by our bedside with a horrible thump, but luckily it seemed none the worse for that so I headed out to lunch with a light if damaged heart.

I don’t suppose the wood pigeon, black pudding, beetroot and apple salad did my diet a massive amount of harm. However, I very much doubt whether the same could be said of the gigantic plate of roast lamb with all the usual trimmings that followed it (and did I really need to help Mrs H out with her pork crackling, having already put one heart attack down to my pig-related cravings?) As for the bread and butter pudding with vanilla cream and apricot compote, the sticky sweetmeat with the coffee – oh, and the two pints of local stout – well, words really fail me.

But Mrs H hadn’t chosen this particular pub in the hope of pushing me closer to a massive cardiac infarction. She’d picked it because bang next door is the track used by the local engineering club to show off their model locomotives. And it’s amazing how much power they can pack into quite a modest tank engine, judging by the speed at which we twice rattled around the circuit. We thought it would be a treat for The Boy, given that he is completely obsessed with (a) cars, (b) tractors and (c) choo-choos, and his current favourite book is entitled simply Choo Choo. It doesn’t have much of a plot to be honest. Some people get on a train, and they go over a bridge and through a tunnel before arriving at the seaside. Adult credulity is severely stretched by the fact that they manage this journey without encountering any delays caused by freak weather (such as a slight breeze or snow shower), theft of signal cables or a slow-moving or broken-down train on the line ahead. But The Boy can’t get enough of it.

He seemed keen enough as we approached the track, instructing “Mummy – go” and “Daddy – hand”, clearly realizing that this was boys’ stuff and we needed to approach the little station hand-in-hand, father and son together. “Up, up” he commanded, wanting to be picked up so that he could have the best possible view of the little engine as it steamed in the platform or whizzed around the track.

Then it all went tits up when it was our turn for a ride and he made it perfectly clear that he wanted to get straight off, before we had even left the station.

First rejected idea: sitting on Daddy's knee
Sitting on Daddy’s knee was right out. He needed to be held by Mummy, looking away from the engine and periodically saying “Aw gaw”, a noise he has been making when under stress for some time now, and which we finally worked out was his version of “Oh God!” We’re not quite sure where he has picked that up from, as if he was copying the oaths uttered around our house he would be coming out with something considerably stronger than that.

Second rejected idea: sitting on Mummy's knee

Third idea: clinging to Mummy for dear life, saying "Oh God!"

Woo! Woo!

On the other hand, I had an absolutely wonderful time and was grinning like a train-mad five-year-old throughout. I realized that being in possession of a small boy provides a superb opportunity to relive all those childish pleasures I supposedly grew out of 40-odd years ago, at least so long as have enough of a strength advantage to force The Boy to participate in them against his will.

Well, I enjoyed it ...
... as you can probably tell
I drove home in high good humour, took The Dog for a walk, completed my weekly ritual of sorting out the rubbish for the council and putting the bins out, flattened a load of cardboard boxes in the garage so as to ease their eventual transport to the tip, and topped up the screenwash in two cars. Then I settled down on the sofa with a nice cup of tea and … The Dog promptly barked to go out again. He can’t be trusted at the best of times and the other night we had the disconcerting experience of finding a badger attempting to batter its way into the house via the cat flap, so it seems best to put him on a lead for this sort of thing. Only The Dog has a keen sense of humour and does his best to lead his companions into areas he has visited before. Even though I shone a torch on the ground before every step I took, I returned to the house with every crevice in the sole of one walking shoe filled with something indescribably horrid, and duly spent a thoroughly unpleasant five minutes at the outside tap attempting to remedy this. I was rather upset that Mrs H refused to sacrifice her toothbrush to help in the clean-up process.

Then, at last, I sat down on the sofa with my now cold mug of tea and cheerfully opened my iPad to read the Sunday Times, which I no longer bother to buy in print because one can download every section in full on the iPad (unlike the daily paper, which has one or two irritating omissions).

It was at this point that I realized what the digital radio had landed on with such a thump when it fell off the chest of drawers this morning. I’d only had the bloody iPad since Christmas and now it’s completely knackered. One might think, given the eye-watering amounts I pay for home insurance each year, that it might be covered for this, but I bet there will be some exclusion or, failing that, an excess curiously almost exactly matching the cost of an iPad.

Hence my assertion, despite the delightful (for me) train ride, that it has not been a particularly great day.

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