Day Twenty

Babe waltzes through the front door, back from Waitrose.

“Look what I got!”

“Is that a Laura Ashley face mask or did Nanny cut up one of her floral curtains and make it for you?”

“Yes. Nanny made it for me. And it smells of lavender! Here, smell it.”

I try it on. It does indeed smell like lavender.

“Can she make one for me like Bane’s face mask that smells of menace and muscular rage?” 

“Do you mean Bane, the baddie in The Dark Knight Rises played by that ever-so firm and fit but slightly too pretty Tom Hardy, or Bath and North East Somerset, you know, the district of unitary authority that was created on the 1st April 1996 following the abolition of the county of Avon?” 

“The baddie?”

“You don’t sound sure.” 

“I’m not. I understood everything up to ‘the baddie’. But I don’t know what a ‘distinct urine tea authority’ is. It sounds like a place where you go to get a calming brew for a wee infection.”

“I’m sure it does to people who don’t listen properly and who haven’t gotten off their backside to help their wife with the shopping.”

I hand the well-tailored floral facemask back to Babe and vow to test her knowledge of the middle names of Bruce Wayne’s girlfriends, while she’s asleep (obviously).

“Did you buy any food?” 

“No. I just thought I’d go to Waitrose and browse all the things they have on the Reduced Item shelf. Today it was a jar of Tuscan artichokes and a box of Swiss liqueurs. And these bags I’m holding that appear to be brimming with food are in fact full of fake plastic produce that window dressers use for their extravagant displays. I thought I’d stock our fridge and cupboards with that instead of food we could actually eat.”

The sarcasm seems to be escalating, so I get off my backside and grab the bags and head to the kitchen. 

After unpacking the real food I go to the garden for some quiet time and to brush up on the counties and unitary district authorities of the UK.

A dog barks. A man claps and grunts with joy, “Good boy. Yes. Good boy. Does that feel nice? Yes? Good boy.” This happens another eight or nine times in ever quicker succession. I begin to wonder if there is some sort of inter-species sex game going on in my neighbour’s garden. Suddenly the County of Rutland pops into my head. 

For some reason that makes me remember that I have to fit a childseat to Babe’s bike. 

Head back inside for my toolbox. 

Can’t find my toolbox. 

“That’s odd,” I say loudly and slowly hoping Babe will hear me. If she does she doesn’t respond. I carry on the monologue. 

“THAT’S REALLY ODD. Hhhhhmmmm. I always leave my toolbox on the shelf – at eye level – in the cupboard under the stairs. Because, you know, that’s where anyone can see it and reach it if they need it. But it’s missing.”

Still no response.  

This can only mean one thing: she doesn’t give a flying fig. 

Actually, it means two things. Firstly, she doesn’t give a flying fig. And secondly, she has “tidied it away”, which in English means “put it somewhere that is unknown to anyone else but makes the rest of the cupboard look visually appealing but impractical”. 

Tut. 

Go to the sink cupboard and turf out all manner of things like a dog digging for a bone. 

“Ah ha!” 

Like a squirrel, I decided to bury, forward-slash hide, the massive monkey wrench that the traveller who fitted our fence panels six and half years ago left behind. 

Walk with a swagger to the garden, feeling the weight of the wrench in my hand. This could do some real damage. If I do see any drunk coronavirus zombies in my rose bush, one good whack with this little beauty should do the trick. 

Fit child seat.

Test child seat. 

It wobbles.

Read instructions. 

Remove child seat.

Refit child seat.

Test child seat. 

It doesn’t wobble. 

Curse instructions. 

Marvel at the weighty monkey wrench. 

Rhubarb comes out to see me. 

“What are you doing daddy?” 

“Fitting your child seat so you can be chauffeured round like Cleopatra.”

“Who’s Cleopaptra?” 

“A queen poppet.”

Her face lights up. 

“Will I need to wear a crown?” 

“Yes. You’ll need a whip too.”

“Why?” 

“To encourage mummy to ride faster. She loves that.” 

“But I don’t have a whip daddy.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll order one from Argos.”

“Can we play?” 

“Yes poppet. We can play.”

Half an hour later I sustain three injuries: one ladybird skipping rope to the face, one kick to the ribs giving a lion ride, and one scratch to the eyelid playing Tickle Monster. 

Babe calls us in for tea.

Wonder when I can go back to the office. Apart from having a proper desk, rather than a bed to work from, there is a much lower risk of child-induced minor injury. That said, I would have to start wearing pants and trousers again, at least on the walk to the office if not on Zoom calls.