Thursday 1 March 2007

Am I really thinking about Armadillos? indicated by the the little picture on the right?
Well, (hangs head in shame) - yes. Yes, I am. One in particular actually: a fictional one, who can speak and who wears a fishing hat. His name is Ardy.
Ardy is the subject of a series of stories that I tell to Amelie at bedtime: they started on one long journey back from Warrington, with Amelie wide awake in the car when she should have been sleeping. I made up a story in desperation to keep her from demanding we play "her songs" yet again on the 3 hour drive (you can only hear 'Hickory Dickory Dock' sung so many times on a journey before you consider ending it all by simply opening the door at 80mph and leaping out, smiling gratefully at the rushing tarmac).
I was making it up as I went along, and it turned into a nonsense story about a talking Armadillo that lived in the woods behind the garden when I was boy. He goes on adventures, like a kind of grumpy miniature armour-plated Indiano Jones, only in twee rural settings where the baddies are magpies rather than Nazis.
It is exactly as lame as it sounds (possibly more so: in one exciting episode he saved a lost sheep from a bramble bush. That one was a thrill ride from beginning to end...)
But Amelie loves him - since then, she has repeatedly reported seeing Ardy in the garden ("He was rolling in the mud, Daddy! He left muddy footprints in the hall!") and demands Ardy stories whenever possible.
Problem is that I just can't think of new stories quick enough, so she has started to 'help me' by making suggestions: "Tell me the Ardy story about when he met Finding Nemo...tell me about when Ardy was in Charlie and Lola... I want a story about Ardy and Sid the sloth from Ice Age", etc, etc.
For pathetic reasons I get quite annoyed about this (God help me, I think I resent the idea of commerical characters encroaching on my stupid made-up story) and feel compelled to angrily explain: "Ardy never met Finding Nemo! That didn't happen! That couldn't happen! I can't make things up, I can only tell you the stories that actually happened!" (It is at this point you can normally hear Nini sigh faintly, even from another room in the house.)
Do you see what I'm doing there? I am basically lying, in a fairly bad-tempered way, to a three-year old, about my imaginary childhood talking armadillo friend. That can't be good.
She is 36 months old, I am 36 years old, and yet you'd be hard-pushed to work out who was the most mature...
Anyway, do pop back next week: Ardy will be tackling a particulary rude woodpecker who keeps waking him up when he's napping. There's clearly going to be some kind of woodland showdown, and it might 'cut up a bit rough'. It has all the hallmarks of a classic episode, and I wouldn't want you to miss it...

PS: Congratulations are probably not in order to my father, who, on reading this blog for the first time, noted the quote at the top the page (Expeditions led, foes thwarted, poetry, etc) and correctly identified it as: "The sign outside Ardys house, underneath where it says 'Professional Armadillo for Hire' ".
I'm afraid that knowing that doesn't make you a winner, Dad - instead I think it makes us both losers...