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Friday, 11 March 2011

Do you like Aunty Jane?

“Do you like Aunty Jane?”
Emily and Jacob were in a tent made from two clothes horses, a couple of sheets and the old sitting room curtain.
“Do you?”
“I hate her.”
Jacob had to be careful.  This could be a trick, like when Emily had told him that Mr Hobbs was cross about his flowers and that the only thing that would calm him down was for Jacob to go round and say sorry and Mr Hobbs had shouted at him because he’d rung the door bell when he was having his after lunch sleep.
            “Do you.  Do you hate her like I do?”
            “Why do you hate her?”
            “I’m not telling you.  Not till you say you hate her too.”
            Jacob wasn’t sure if he hated his aunt.  He didn’t hate her like he hated Lorna.  He really hated Lorna.  She was the meanest most horrible girl he knew.  She did things like spit on your food and put bogies on your chair.  And he didn’t hate her like he hated the troll in the story, the one that was waiting to trip the billy goats gruff up when they crossed over to eat the juicy new spring grass.  But he didn’t like it when she came to stay.  Something went bad in the house.
            “Alright,” Jacob said.  “I hate her too.”
            “I hate her for three things,” Emily said.  She tucked her hair behind her ear and wiggled her bottom into a more comfortable position.  “I hate the way she talks with her tongue sticking out.  It makes me feel sick in my neck.  And I hate her bag.  I wish there was a snake in it. 
            Jacob agreed about the bag.  “What’s the third thing?”
            “You tell me why you hate her first.”
            “I hate her for what she said to Mummy,” Jacob said.
            “Me too.”
            “It’s just not fair that she comes and lives with us when her house is being painted, and then tells Mummy that she doesn’t cook nice meals.”
            “No.  And anyway, Mummy’s meals are nice.  It’s Aunty Jane’s that taste like sick.”
            “Yuk, yes.   And they look like sick.”
            “The sheet’s falling off, quick.  Go and put it back.”
            Jacob did as he was told, fixed the tent and crawled back in.
            “And do you remember when Mummy shut us out of the kitchen, shouting at us even though we hadn’t done anything?” Emily continued.
            “And I went to the kitchen door and listened and Mummy was crying and Aunty Jane was shouting at her and saying what had happened was all Mummy’s fault.”
            “What had happened?”
            “I don’t know, but Aunty Jane said it was Mummy’s fault and she should be ashamed of what she’d turned into.”
            Jacob started to cry, very quietly, mostly sniffing, but some tears were falling on the wooden floor.  Emily put her arm round his shoulders.  “She shouldn’t make Mummy cry. We’ve got to think of a way to make Aunty Jane cry,” she said.
            “Do you want to know what else she said?”
            Jacob nodded even though he wasn’t sure if he did. 
“She said that Daddy was just bored and not getting what he needed which is just a lie because he always watches whatever he wants on Saturdays.  It’s Mummy who’s bored when he wants to watch the football, and he gets everything he needs because I always hear her say is there anything you want when she does the shopping.” 
            “Yes and yesterday Aunty Jane gave me a cuddle which I didn’t want,” Jacob said.  He’d stopped crying now.  “She smelt horrible, like an old lady.  And she said she wanted to take us on holiday.”  He shuddered thinking about it.
            “I’m not going on holiday with her,” Emily said.  “Not even for money.”
            “She said Daddy would be coming with us to, and it would be in a gigantic ship, she whispered it, and said it was a big secret.  And she said that one day she was going to make us a bedroom each, and mine would be blue and yours would be pink and she squeezed me really tight.  I don’t want to have a blue bedroom.”
            “She can’t make our bedrooms," Emily said.  "This is our house and I don’t mind having you in my bedroom.”
            “It’s not your bedroom.  Mummy said it’s both of ours’.”
            “I don’t mind having you in our bedroom, then.  Anyway, we haven’t got any more rooms here.  Not when Aunty Jane’s staying.  We must make her go.  I’ve got a plan.”
“What is it?” 
“Promise you won’t tell?”
“Cross you heart?”
“Yes, but-”
“Hope to die.  You have to say it.”
“Hope to die.”
“Say it again without your fingers crossed.”
“Well,” Emily said, resettling herself into the back of the tent.  “I know about a special bush in the garden.”
            “But Mummy said we must never ever-”
            “It’s got mauve flowers behind the greenhouse.  We can get some of that and put it in one of her pies that taste like sick.”
            “But Mummy said -”
            “Do you want her to carry on making Mummy cry and cuddling you and making you feel sick?  Do you?”
            “Then you must do exactly what I say.”

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Twitter: More Basic Species Identification -

The Robin

With her jaunty colouring, and curious demeanour, the Robin is the nation’s favourite twitter species. Instantly recognisable, she was a household name well before twitter was a twinkle in Jack Dorsey’s eye. .

The Robin is just as happy tugging worms from the gardens of the rich and famous as from the scrubland behind the gasworks. Ordinary and trivial one minute, funny and loud the next, her chirp is a pleasure to listen to. With no need to market herself, she’s free simply to be herself. Alas, though, not such a pleasure to write about, but proof, if proof were needed, that the kind and nice are much harder to make interesting than the nasty and grim. So, moving swiftly on...

The Feral Pigeon

The Feral Pigeon, known colloquially as the flying rat, is a menace on Twitter, which she treats as her own exclusive territory.  Spikes on ballustrades, wire over statues, will not inhibit her corrosive influence. 

The Feral Pigeon is the Twitter paradox.  Witless, charmless and brain-achingly pedestrian both in what she offers and the way she offers it, this bird is nonetheless popular, attracting many thousands of followers with whom she frolics, squabbles and squawks with tedious ostentation.  Just like her corollary in the natural world, people will feed her with their bare hands, encourage her to perch, wings flapping, on their heads and outstetched arms, taking her photograph, maintaining, despite the species’s obvious limitations - her ungainly style, a propensity to find nourishment in the most unappetising of remains, and the manifest evidence of disease - an inexplicable but unquenchable fondness. 

The theory is that feeding the feral pigeon uncooked rice will result in her intestines exploding.  Tempting.

For previously spotted twitter species, the Blue Footed Booby, the Mother Hen and the Peacock, click here.