A whole chocolate cake
A couple of weeks ago I made a cool discovery: an audio cassette tape onto which I’d recorded my parents telling me stories as a child. (You can hear a baby crying in the background, so it was obviously at the expense of their other children, but never mind.) Listening back, one of the things I love most is their deadpan grimness. My mum didn’t just invent a hungry fox, she invented a hungry fox monologuing rather manner of factly that “if I don’t catch anything, I’ll probably die”.
This probably owed more than a little to Roald Dahl, whose dark humour and grotesque violence continues to save generations of children from too much happy-clappy chirpiness. So it was a delight to go and see Matilda the Musical with mum and no-longer-crying-baby Katie on Wednesday night – with the added bonus of music and lyrics by the wonderful Tim Minchin. And it reminded me that the scene of the Trunchball forcing Bruce Bogtrotter to eat a whole chocolate cake is one of the best moments of children’s literature ever.
A small tax refundSince my educated guess is that drink at Parliament is still generously subsided, does drinking a bottle of House of Commons claret on Caroline’s terrace count as a partial refund of income tax? Either way, it was another nice evening with Matt and Caroline, who are slowly getting over the fact that I still turn up from work in jeans and t-shirts. My defence is always that I’m in the entirely unambiguously profit-hungry private sector. So take that!
A pot of tea and some cake
Grace was down from Warwick last weekend to see relatives from Norway, and by Sunday we had ended up in Richmond: strolling by the river, having tea in a National Trust café – it’s always been all about the cafés – and perhaps having second thoughts about the wonders of Scandinavian life. Yes yes, they might all be happy, long-lived egalitarians with money, snow and good schools, but is that really worth a lack of pubs? Or having to stay outside as a nursery child until it hits minus ten degrees? Let’s not kid ourselves: we are children of cheap alcohol and wet play. (And perhaps unsurprisingly, apparently also rickets.)
An inauguration for the wedding plates
Two weeks back, Sanna, Saoirse and I made our way to Abbi and Paul’s new abode with the usual quantities of wine, delicious vegetarian cooking and Saoirse’s many, many, many baked desserts. (So many, indeed, that we had to samples back home, though obviously in my case this proved a simple matter of leaving them in the kitchen to disappear.) We were all quite honoured to be the first to eat off their wedding plates, during a meal where at some point I must have confessed to never having seen The Fast Show because by the end we were definitely watching episodes of that. And ah, weren’t the 1990s such a long time ago? The hair! The clothes! The lack of smartphones!
Which reminds me, actually, of the scene in Matilda the musical where her dad threatens to have her banned from the library for the rest of her. “No more books! No more reading! No more stories!”. Naturally, it was at this point that Katie leaned over to me, shrugged and said “hey, she could just get a Kindle”.