Thursday, April 26, 2007


Alex’ bed-time sees us plough through three more chapters of Anthony Horowitz’ ‘Stormbreaker’ – the debut outing of Alex Rider (14 year old hero in the James Bond mould). I return to downstairs, where I find Emma with the cordless phone by her side. She passes it to me.

Emma: Ken called.
Shane: I’ll call him now.
Emma: He said to try him tomorrow – he’s gone to see a film.
Shane: Oh, right.
Emma: There’s something not quite right with him, y’ know.
Shane: I know, that’s why I like him.
Emma: He had a visit from the police.
Shane: What?
Emma: That Belgian girl reported him.
Shane: Why?
Emma: He stole her dog.
Shane: What?!
Emma: He met up with her in Norwich –
Shane: Why?
Emma: She was looking after some relative’s house and dog, she and he had an argument -
Shane: Wha-
Emma: I didn’t ask what it was about and stop interrupting. They had an argument and as he stormed off he picked up the dog lead, hooked the animal, and walked – took her an hour to notice, and, well, she reported it.
Shane: He kidnapped a dog?
Emma: I suppose. He took it back after a couple of hours, but it took her less time to report him.
Shane: But... if that was in Norwich, why would he get a visit from the police? Surely one Norfolk dog going missing for a couple of hours is hardly worth police visiting London?
Emma: It’s not ordinary behaviour though, is it?
Shane: Of course not, he’s Ken.
Emma: Ask him about it tomorrow.
Shane: I will.

This is the sort of thing that can happen when I leave Kenny to his own devices for too long. I already feel responsible. I'm a bad mother to that boy.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Friday, 7pm.

Alex is climbing a tree, Shane is supervising, Emma is watering plants.

Shane: Hold on a minute – let me see your side (pointing).
Alex: (bemused, halts on branch, part-raises right side of t-shirt) Why?
Shane: I just noticed you’ve got a few marks (examining the three small offending red blotches) and I wondered what they were.
Emma: What do you think they are?
Shane: I’m not sure, but they look a bit like… (raises left leg of own trouser to reveal five similar blotches) these!
Emma: Oh, scabbos – my boys - you’re diseased!
Alex and Shane: What?!
Emma: Oh, you’re making me feel itchy – how long have you had them?
Shane: I noticed mine on, er, Wednesday. I assumed they were a heat rash from wearing shin pads.
Emma: And you, little man, didn’t have those marks when you showered this morning.
Alex: What are they?
Emma: I don’t know. We’ll take a trip to the 24-hour pharmacist and see if they can explain.

Pharmaceuticals were dispensed and Saturday morning saw a clear Alex, and a much-faded Shane-rash (we suspected minor allergies or bug bites).

Saturday, 8pm

Alex is drawing a picture – it looks like… an omelette.

Shane: What’s that that you’re drawing?
Alex: Our disease.
Shane: Oh right, yeah – good dots. But what’s that that you’re drawing them on?
Alex: (concentrating) Some cheese – like the holey cheese, but with disease instead of holes.
Shane: Ah yes, very good.

Friday, April 20, 2007


I gather thermos-mug-thing (fully earl greyed), car key, some papers and the laptop, as I prepare to head off for an Important Meeting. At this point, I know that I have looked better.

Emma: Oh dear.
Shane: What?
Emma: Your eyes.
Shane: (looks in mirror) Oosh.
Emma: Mm, tired. And (casts an eye over Shane), y’ know, you can ask me to iron your shirts.
Shane: Oh, right. But wouldn’t that be dangerous – possibly hinting at some horrible patriarchal future? One minute shirt-ironing, the next – you’re cooking all of our meals and buying underpants for me whilst I’m fixing cars, pottering in sheds and doing real man stuff – drinking beer, betting on horses, sitting in an armchair.
Emma: You know how to fix cars?
Shane: No.
Emma: (proffers pitying look) Or you could iron your shirts yourself.
Shane: Where am I going to get the time to iron shirts! What with my now growing a beard, my time is all gone.
Emma: (shaking head) Go!

As I drive away, I tune in to Radio 4 - an attempt to raise my intellectual game. Soon, I am listening to Melvin Bragg talking to some mathematicians about ‘group theory’. This is all too much. I switch to a CD. Soon, I am listening to Alex’ audio version of George’s Marvellous Medicine. I have found my level.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Shane (31): Come on - teeth then shoes then we've got to go.
Alex (6): Chimp!
Shane: Chimp?
Alex: Yeah, you chimp!
Shane: (pause) Indeed. Teeth.
Alex: You're a chimp.
Shane: Where did you get 'chimp' from?
Alex: Dunno, just made it up.
Shane: Sounds a bit nasty when you say it like that.
Alex: Chimp?
Shane: 'Chimp' is ok, but it's how you say it -
Alex: (chirrups) Chimp.
Shane: That's better.
Alex: (sings) Shane is a chimp.
Shane: (sings) Alex brush your teeth.

Teeth were brushed, shoes were put on, we walked to school. Alex showed me his new classroom. Upon leaving the school I overheard another parent confirm with teacher: 'It is today that they're getting their photos taken, isn't it'. I looked back and noted that Alex was having a particularly unruly hair-day. From afar, his silhouette suggested devil horns.