First, as they say in the press, an apology. The Number-One-Daughter wishes to make it clear that at no point did she make light of the fact that her mate Pete slowly sank through the bedroom floor towards his doom. She wishes to have it recorded that she supported him as he sank and tried to haul him back into the bedroom – an impressive thought on account of the fact that she is tiny and Pete is substantially taller and broader than her- while he who is now the Number-One-Son-In-Law succumbed to the giggles having gone to inspect the disembodied leg and size twelve trainer downstairs. I cannot possibly comment.
There is news of the Little Madams – of the Right Little Madam to be precise. She loves everything on this earth in equal measure. As a toddler she had to be restrained from hugging the swans in a local park because all they needed was a bit of love; cats are on this planet to be stroked and Angus, the family Westie sometimes receives such an excess of attention that he goes to hide under the bed for a moment of solitude. She names the slugs and snails that have eaten her mother’s seedlings, tried to get into a terrapin enclosure head first and feels sympathy for spiders.
She once informed her mother, “There’s a spider suffering in silence in the Wendy House just like granddad. I’m calling it Fred. Can we keep him?” Closer inspection revealed that the spider had expired some time previously so would not benefit from his new patroness’s largesse. She was very disappointed, particularly as it had long legs, “Just like granddad.”
“What – Granddad’s got eight legs?”
“NO.” The look she gave her mother suggested that it wasn’t just granddad and the spider who suffered in silence.
Garden snails really have benefited from the Right Little Madam’s benevolence as it happens. I no longer send them for flying lessons across the main road if the RLM is in the vicinity. HWIOO says that they come back anyway. The Legal Eagles (a.k.a my brother and sister-in-law) are kind souls who collect their snails by the bucket load and then take them for a long ride (is there a snail equivalent of fly tipping?) – apart from the last bucket which they upended in the gutter outside their house in the belief that crossing a pavement, and climbing four steps would be a bit much for them, it was getting late anyway and they were becoming concerned that there might be a by-law about disposing of molluscs. Unfortunately, apparently, the following morning Bernie’s car looked as though a biblical plague of snails had singled him out for special attention. The Right Little Madam would have been horrified and no doubt named each and every single one of them on the spot before placing them on a nice succulent vegetable patch.
Snails aside, the Right Little Madam has brought some very unwelcome guests home. It turns out that worms are endemic in the under tens these days- ugh! One good scratch and they’re ready to spread to whatever the child next touches. All one has to do is make contact with the same spot and at a later date put one’s hands near one’s mouth – fetch the detergent now -I’ll just gargle with it. There’s also the unbounded joy that whatever gets stuck under the fingernails can then be transferred in play dough or sand or cake mix or whatever they happen to run their chubby little fingers through. All the next person in the chain has to do is place their fingers in their mouths… Talk about too much information! Actually bleach, yes, fetch the bleach, antiseptic, carbolic soap and the steam cleaner – I may be busy this evening deep cleaning everything everywhere and HWIOO – I’ m not sure his immune system would appreciate worms… I’m not sure he’ll appreciate being steam cleaned either but that’s beside the point.
Everyone has had to be wormed apart, bizarrely, from Angus who is probably wondering why no one has shoved a large tablet down his master’s throat and held his mouth shut until he’s swallowed it no matter how much he wriggles and growls unless, of course, he can pretend to have downed it and then spits it out behind the sofa when no one is looking (that’s the dog’s monthly ritual, not the Number One Son-in-Law’s it should be added- though it’s looking like that might change).
The Number-One-Son-In-Law was not pleased to arrive home from a long day at work to be presented with a beaker of something disgusting to drink and the information that his middle child had worms.
The Number One Daughter wasn’t terribly impressed either, “The medicine tastes vile and I just itch thinking about it. Do you have any idea how long it took me to get the stuff down the Littlest Madam. You are still coming on Sunday aren’t you?”
“Uhm…” I know that you are more house proud than be but… can I bring the carbolic and the steam cleaner? Where can I get a biohazard suit at short notice? Perhaps the Madams could be fitted inside individual plastic crates with air holes and castor cups thus avoiding nit and worm related issues. They’d probably be less prone to bugs and viruses as well. “Of course we’ll be there.”
I’m not sure if worms are worse than nits or not. I’m not saying that either sound especially pleasant or that I want them. When I was at school chemical warfare had seen all the little parasitic blighters off, or so the powers that be must have thought. The Nit Nurse was a thing of the past. By the time the Number One Daughter was at school the nit was back with a vengeance- entire classes were decimated by the presence. It didn’t help, either, upon the Number One Daughter’s infestation, to be told that nits like clean hair.
Nor did it help that after a week of nightly tea tree conditioner, combing and nit picking that we chanced to visit HWIOO’s mother. Within minutes of arriving our peace was shattered. Something made her reach for a long strand of the Number One Daughter’s hair, “What lovely soft hair you have,” said Mam. “It’s just like silk.”
As one HWIOO and I turned to look at the Number One Daughter, one prayer issued up between us in silence, ‘Don’t say a word. Please don’t say why your hair is so soft.’
“I’ve got a new conditioner Nanna. It smells ever so nice doesn’t it?”
“So it does,”replied Mam leaning her own head closer to the Number One Daughter’s until they were touching. “And its so soft. Aren’t you lucky to have such beautiful hair. I wish I had hair like yours.”
I spent the next fortnight with my fingers crossed, hoping that nothing had made its way into my mother-in-law’s snowy white perm because quite frankly I don’t think she did want hair just like the Number One Daughter’s. Fortunately the nits didn’t migrate into Mam’s hair…they visited me instead. Now perhaps you can see why the biohazard suit is a very good idea indeed.