Sunday, August 19, 2007

Happy holidays

The week has been mad; then again, every week is mad. My clever cousin came to do complicated things to my computers. He was supposed to come on Wednesday and leave Thursday at noon. Every time he fixed something, something else unravelled. He ended up leaving Friday at 6pm. He does not have kids. He has cats. I said: "What do you think?" He said: "It's chaos." I would have asked him why he thought that, but someone screamed, interrupting my thought process. It might have been me.

Summer holidays mean that we have neighbours again in the other cottages along our row. Small children play complicated super hero games in the shrubbery. My six-year-old's part demands he spends every waking moment in a John Deere tractorman boilersuit and his cycle helmet. Even when he eats. When the boys and their friends do things I do not like, I throw them out of the garden. If it is good enough for God. Following a bad experience with a room being trashed which would not have shamed a seventies rock band, I also have strict rules about playing inside. On Friday, as I was talking to the builder about the next phase of work in the arches, my six-year-old asked: "Can we go upstairs mummy?" I said: "Yes," noticing too late the tribe of children with him. As soon as I had finished talking to the builder, I ran upstairs to bring everyone back down. There was a young boy I had never seen before in the room. I said: "Who are you?" I suppose I should really have said: "Whose are you and where are you from?" I still do not know. Later, when I asked my sons, they just shrugged.

So here we were: my cousin mired in computer hell, flies a-buzzin', children everywhere, and a builder working in the utility room right next to the study where my cousin is trying to do his stuff. I am vaguely embarrassed about the study; it is not yet unpacked and is crowded out with large cardboard boxes and files. Occasionally, the builder would walk through the study to the front door where he is sawing lumps of wood. (The study unfortunately is a thoroughfare between the kitchen and the utility room. We have four bedrooms upstairs with views across the fields to the sea. The study was supposed to be in one of them but the boys insisted on having their own rooms. Now, we look out on to coal sheds and get to put the washing on.)

At some point in the morning, my riding pal drops by with her friend. They are both on large horses. My friend says: "I'm really hung over. Can I have some water?" I go get her some water. I say to my cousin: "Come and meet my friend." He stands up, eases past the builder, steps round the workbench at the door, and comes outside to meet her. I say: "She is on a horse." I probably did not need to say this. We chat awhile about the fact the other rider is on a horse with a glorious, glamorous name. She says: "But I think she looks like a Matilda." I look at the horse. I think: "What would make you think your horse looks like a Matilda? What would make you think your horse looked like anything but a horse?"

They trot off. A couple of hours later, my evangelical friends arrive with their three children. I say to my cousin: "Come and meet my friends." I realise I cannot even offer them a biscuit because I am completely out of food. I own an Aga and I am completely out of food. They probably take away your Aga if you do not dedicate at least one day a week to baking cheese scones and cherry cake, let alone run out of food.

My cousin finally made a successful break for freedom. Then on Saturday morning, we had to get out early to visit a farm shop to buy wooden gates for the access road outside the cottages. The boys pestered me for two small padlocks. I gave in. Within an hour of getting home, my six-year-old had padlocked one neighbour's boy to a metal clip attached to a knotted rope, tied to a tree which they were using to let themselves down into a nettled strip of field between our garden wall and the barbed wire which keeps the cows out. As the boy dangled from the rope, my son realised, a little late, he had lost the key to the padlock. I had hoped this habit would skip a generation. My husband managed to haul the boy up and unlock him with the spare key I had kept (you live and you learn) but not before the struggling had snapped the branch to the rowan tree. I threw them all out of the garden for that one. But not before the boy had said to me, pointing at a small tear in his trousers: "Look! He did that when he padlocked me to the rope." I thought: "I am so not explaining what happened to your mother." I said: "Well, next time he offers to padlock you to anything, say 'No'."

13 comments:

@themill said...

Glad to see lots of friends in this one!

J&M Boulder said...

"If it is good enough for God." I am still laughing at that one! Thank you so much for your blog!

Ann in Saskatchewan said...

I wonder if anyone has been along to confiscate your Aga tonight or have you managed to make some cheese scones already? I don't know how long you have lived in Northumbria. Have you done a winter and kids yet???

I am still laughing at someone screaming, that might have been you - hilarious!!!

ShelaghG said...

I said: "Well, next time he offers to padlock you to anything, say 'No'."

hehe - you're a hard woman!

patsy said...

One of my best friends is called
Matilda and she looks like a Matilda. We bake and curl our hair and do girlie things together.
Her mother gave her this name to prepare her for the fact that she has 3 older brothers. Matilda puts them easily in their places with one killer glance.
She is seven years old.
Friends come in all shapes and sizes...

mountainear said...

Boys. Why are they the way they are? Courting dirt and danger in equal amounts. They could be dangerous if they tried hard enough.

My lads (some 20 years ago now) had a wonderful game - involving warfare and primitive weapsons as usual - which had the weakest member cowering behind a dustbin lid while everyone else lobbed pointed sticks in his direction. but he wasn't much good with this improvised shield. The spear in the face thing happened. Ouch. And I would much rather have had to explain a tear in a pair of trousers than the hole that spurted blood next to his lip.

violincjj said...

It's worse still when the boys have spent the afternoon playing Tigers and your son is the one who crossed the line and actually left the toothmarks on his friend's throat...his mother was nice about it though.

Sir James Beiggelschwarz said...

How on earth do you find the time to blog with all this going on?

The thinker said...

Lovely post - I am envious at the scene of "across fileds to the sea". I heaved an envious sigh again at the thought of the Aga - I'd bake daily if I had one - and be 3 stone heavier !

The thinker said...

Ih S**t - sorry that should not have been 'fileds' but 'fields'. Must be low blood sugar - I obviously need to go cook dinner ...

tim relf said...

Don't worry about your son's enthusiasm for John Deere stuff WITN - it's perfectly normal. Some people are positively obsessed with it. He might like this JD harvesting game (sorry, you're probably trying to keep him away from the computer!) http://www.agriculture.com/ag/files/combinecombat/game.html
Alternatively, there's a stack of amusing JD-related stuff on YouTube.
I don't, incidentally, work for JD - I just know a few people that are Deere-aholics!

occasional northerner said...

My seven year old has spent the evening trailing grass cuttings from the compost heap to the bathroom. Time to go back to school I think.

merry weather said...

That was a funny post, you do have a great sense of humour.

Actually I misread the horse thing -
I thought it said 'what make of horse'
which started a pleasing train of thought, about horses with model numbers and capacities tattoed on their withers or whatnots...

I like the idea of friends arriving on horseback and strange kids who feel at ease in your house. You do have good times up there, for sure.