We babysat for the assorted Little Madams yesterday. I should like to take this opportunity to point out that the senior Little Madam thrashed me at several family board and card games. I can only assume that she is rehearsing for a career as a card sharp. I’m certainly of the opinion that the snakes and ladders’ dice was weighted and I’m not sure that turning the card over in a game of snap and studying it carefully before putting it on the pile is approved by the Society of Snap Players.  She is also a dab hand at pontoon or ‘Twenty-one’ as we are currently calling it although she does need to use her fingers to work out how good the card she’s just turned might be rather more than the average player I suspect.  Perhaps I need to teach her how to play chess.  I tried that with the Number One Son many moons ago. I won the first two games and he’s beaten me in every game he’s ever played against me since.


Having been humiliated on the games front I then handed over to HWIOO who is currently reading the first Harry Potter to the masses. It can be quite tricky reading a book out loud with a girl on either side and the littlest one snuggled in to your lap along with the entire cast of Toy Story including the dinosaur. In any event there was a slight mishap with the name Flammel which HWIOO pronounced like flannel only with m. He was corrected in stereo, “Flam-mel.”


Ultimately, despite the Littlest Madam’s ruse of needing the ‘pot-pot,’ every five minutes I think it was a successful evening. Showers were had, teeth were cleaned and an approximation of a school bedtime achieved without any tears or tantrums (and yes that is my tears and tantrums.)


We passed the night at one of a well-known chain of hotels adjoining the residence of a very small cook. All was well until we laid out weary heads on our pillows and tried to sleep. Let me tell you dear Reader that all those Victorian gothic writers recounting tales of stormy nights where boughs of trees scratch at windows like ghostly hands were lying through their quill pens.


The sound of a tree against a wall, gutter, pvc facia and window is more akin to an attack of catastrophic wind in a badly fitted central heating system. Certainly our initial impression was that someone somewhere ought to bleed the radiators. By three o’clock in the morning it sounded much more like something hydraulic in a garage or even the Number One Son when he first started playing the electric guitar.  This was possibly because the noise was not ever present.  It ebbed and flowed with the direction of the storm outside which meant that just as I was finally dropping off to sleep the noise- which come to think of it could be likened to clanking chains- resumed.


In any event this morning HWIOO was none the worse for his experience on account of the fact that he always feels as though he’s had three hours sleep. I on the other hand did not alight from Morpheus’s chariot in the best frame of mind. It was a gentle reminder that while I might only occasionally want to cry from tiredness that HWIOO has to contend with the feeling the whole time and that while I can fire up the neurons with a pot of scalding black coffee the only effect it will have on him is to leave him feeling jangly as well as tired- which from past experience is not a good combination.


It turns out though that lack of sleep and coffee work for me in terms of decorating. I have nearly finished removing the paint from the bedroom door – and yes the very first coat on it is the green lead filled variety. I have also sized the walls with a mixture of pva and water to seal the dirt and dust in, washed the radiator and mopped the floor. I have many things to cross off my list – sorry action plan but most importantly the bedroom is ready to put back together. Huzzah!


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