Wednesday, 26 October 2011

reap what you sow

The Engineer learned a valuable lesson recently while bathing young Snooks.

Our boy, sitting up importantly in the bath, held him with a steady gaze and announced “The seacap lurts waiting to take over on Monday.”

The father was, as you can imagine, somewhat perplexed and his confusion was met with repeated and impatient repetitions: “THE SEA CAP LURTS WAITING TO TAKE OVER ON MONDAY.”

The mystery was solved some days later when the boys were watching a film posted on YouTube which had come up during a search they had made on the subject of hovercrafts, Snookie’s then very best favourite form of transport.

Finding we could pull up YouTube on our telly had opened up our viewing to include snips of just about anything you can think of (and many things you can’t) at the push of a button, which had enabled us to show Snooks the Space Shuttle, Daleks, Peter Paul and Mary singing Marvellous Toy and many many more golden moments from our past, which have enriched his present.

So at the peak of his hovercraft frenzy we had all had the pleasure of hours of hovermania available because of other similarly obsessed little boys now old enough to upload their hover footage on line.

However amongst these clips was a short BBC news item about the last voyage of the cross channel hovercraft when, yes you guessed it, the more profitable catamaran took over, apparently on a Monday.

Snooks’ brain had absorbed the news reporter’s script “The Seacat lurks waiting to take over on Monday,” and redelivered it, slightly mangled but with exactly the same intonation, weeks later.

Well this was all rather amusing and harmless enough (with one stark caveat about not leaving You Tube to scroll even on as innocent a search as hovercrafts. Zombies. S'all I’m sayin’) but you never know when and where this total recall trick is going to happen next.

The worst to date came when he and his new best friend with whom he scoots to and from school stopped to watch the workmen building new classrooms and facilities from which the boys will one day hopefully benefit, and Snooks shouted; “’Aven’t you got any work to do, mate?” as the kind foreman came over to greet them.

I of course understood. I could instantly recognise the distinct Richard-Briers-doing-a-working-class-person accent which Snooks had heard a million times on the CD audio book of Benedict Blathwayt’s the Great Big Little Red Train. I knew where Snooks had got it from but I cannot tell you what made him say it at that moment, a moment in which it uncannily had some meaning, which I know he could never have intended. Standing there in his brand new privileged schoolboy sweater addressing the working man as if he owned the land on which he laboured.

Then in similarly apt circumstances he is wont to bellow, “Idiot! Stupid Grandpa car,” at haplessly witless drivers luckily too sealed into their Ford Orions to hear and who would never know that the rudely offensive wordage belongs not to him or even to me, but to the writers of Disney’s fabulous film, Cars and their marvellous creation, its central character Lightning McQueen.

I did eventually have to issue a YouTube warning to the Engineer after his and Snooks’ secret Saturday searches turned up a string on the American sport of drag car racing that has engulfed Snooks’ imagination in a such giant ball of gasoline-and-adrenalin-fuelled fire, which no amount of good children’s literature and healthy walks on the Common seems able to put out.

Snooks and I spent today at home together. We had planned to visit friends in Greenwich but a combination of ill health and bad weather meant a day inside seemed the best for all concerned.

My friend, who I was sad not to see, told me to sit him in front of the telly and rest. I groaned. I can’t do that. It’s not allowed.

“Listen,” she said, “my son’s first full sentence was ‘And that is the last in the present series’ and look how he turned out.” Her son is a 30-something happily married rather rich Oxbridge graduate with at least two properties in capital cities across the globe. He’s nice too.

I settled Snooks in front of repeat episodes of the wonderful Abney and Teal which I noted somewhere around 4pm had not only brightened his mood but had cheered me up considerably too.

As I put him to bed just now, I whispered to him how when I am falling asleep I sometimes think of the best thing that has happened during the day. I suggested maybe he could think about Abney and Teal floating high above the park on their bubble bouncing around near the clouds and floating through the blue, blue sky.

“Or I could think about crashing dragsters,” he whispered back at me, beaming excitedly in the dark.

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