Monday, 30 November 2009

spooky action

They did warn me. They did say that each time you think you have got this thing cracked, a new challenge would present itself.

I kind of assumed that meant something in the realm of ‘once you’ve got solid food sorted you have potty training to tackle’ - that sort of thing.

So riding high with Snookie’s wonderful linguistic developments and now more or less used to his erratic sleeping habits, you could say I was getting the hang of it.

Even his fierce will (which means that when he is happy he is a delight but try to persuade him into something he does not fancy and he will mount a campaign of non-violent protest which includes running away or making like a plank, thus rendering himself impossible to manhandle) has become easier to manage since verbal negotiations became at our disposal.

He is a happy, healthy, adorable child who tolerates my inability to spot when his teeth are hurting, to the point that he has to stand in front of the medicine cupboard and point to the bottle of Calpol before I twig. (The other teething indicator is a refusal to eat any fruit, which at first I mistook for the early onset of puberty.)

So what I was not expecting was what occurred one night when the Engineer was out for the evening and I was putting Snooks to bed early in the hope of a bit of quiet time in front of some trashy TV.

As we snookled quietly in the semi-darkness of his bedroom – the largest and grandest in our home – he leaned back in my arms and informed me that there was a man at the window.

Of course my immediate reaction was calm, dismissive and kind. No there was no man, I assured him. The thick curtains were closed and shutters behind them prevented anyone looking in.

So he turned in my arms and pointed quite specifically to a spot in the bay window just above head height and said, “Man.”

Now I am a fairly practical person, not easily persuaded by theories which lack evidence (homeopathy, Diana’s murder, Facebook) but also not entirely sure that there may not be more to life than meets the eye.

After further investigation it became clear that a) The Man was not a shadow as he remained in place when the lights were turned on and off and that b) Snooks was not afraid of him and in fact seemed rather delighted by his presence.

I, on the other hand, was not and mentally raced through scenes from Poltergeist and The Sixth Sense and had consequently done what any good Catholic would do – I had prayed.

Before you write me off as a hysteric, I should explain that I managed not to convey my terror to Snooks, happily engaged in some kind of silent discourse with his new friend, and instead tried to glean what information I dare from him about the man’s identity.

But by the time the Engineer returned home about an hour later, although I knew there must be some earthly explanation for the apparition, I had been unable to bring myself to move and was still sitting in the same spot, cradling the now wide-awake Snooks in my arms.

After a hastily whispered exchange about unanswered questions behind the paranormal, the probable existence of good ghosts and the desire never again to watch a scary film, we managed to get Snooks to bed and remove to another room to regroup.

Now if you were looking to get spooked - or to sell the film rights - you could add to this story the fact that Snooks has also recently taken to rolling his eyes to one side and spinning round in circles until he keels over, a jest we nervously laugh off, while trying to stop him from crashing into the furniture.

And to mark a recent visit by his uncle, our little son was seen running triumphantly down the hallway bearing aloft a large painted crucifix which had been unearthed by the removal of his cot to our room for the duration.

Telling the story to my brother over dinner that night, rounding off the tale with the punchline '... and that's where you're sleeping', I mentioned that I had learned from Snooks that the man’s name was Green, leading me to suppose he might have made his way in from the many pelican crossings we use on our regular route to the common.

However my brother offered another, more romantic proposal; that he could be The Green Man - you know, the one adorning pubs and churches, the one who is thought to be a symbol of rebirth, a pagan tribute to fertility, the very essence of masculinity.

My brother’s stay with us passed without any nightly visits by any men of any hue and also seems to have seen off our other guest, as Snooks now informs me each night, before dropping off to sleep, ‘Man gone.’

I wish I could be so sure.

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