Monday 6 April 2009

Woodpeckers, sharks and Songanomics

I am asleep, enduring a hideous dream whereby, through a series of freakish accidents, I have been mistakenly sent into the G20 summit in place of Gordon Brown and not only have to fake an understanding of world economics but also his Scottish accent.
It is not going well: people keep asking me "Well, what do you think, Gordon?" and all I can do is shrug and say "Och, I dunnae.." in the most unconvincing way possible, while they all look at me with increasing suspicion.
"But Gordon, people are losing their jobs by the thousand..." says Barack Obama.
"And zeir 'omes.." adds Sarkosy, with a touch of Gallic menace.
"Hoots! Dinnae fash, I'll think o' sommat..." I say, while a bead of nervous sweat flops from my brow and stains the silk of my Labour Party HQ tie. It is a relief when a bright flash of green darts over the heads of the armed security personnel guarding the doorway, and a woodpecker suddenly lands on my shoulder. It begins to peck incessantly at my head.
"Excuse me" I tell the massed ranks of world leaders. "I must just deal with this..."
"Wake up, Daddy..." says the woodpecker.
I open my eyes. I am lying in bed on a Saturday morning, with the curtains blowing in the breeze. My youngest daughter has climbed onto the bed next to me, and is rapping on the side of my head with her tiny knuckles.
"Wake up, Daddy" she repeats. "I am here to rescue you."
"You....are?" I ask. I look at her in some confusion. She is wearing a pair of bright orange swimming goggles, an inflatable rubber ring, and nothing else.
"Yes" she nods. "From the sharks. We are going swimming."
There is a long, long pause while I gaze into her goggled face.
"Am I still dreaming ?" I finally ask, in genuine confusion.
"No, you all awake now" she says, happily. "I saved you."
"From the....sharks?" I ask, stupidly peering under the duvet to look for predatory fish.
"Yes", she nods, slipping down from the bed before announcing: "Going to save Mummy now."
At this point, as our local Naked Rescue Force Ranger (Ocean Division) leaves, her sister enters the room, jingling a plastic moneybox. She stands at the side of the bed and comes straight to the point.
"I will sing you a song" she informs me, "If you give me some money."
"Good morning..." I manage.
She frowns in mild annoyance.
"Good morning" she tuts. "Daddy, I will sing you a song if you give me some money."
It is clear from her tone that early morning pleasantries are to be considered at best irrelevant, and at worst an intolerable barrier to commerce. Times are tough in our household; I realise that everyone is feeling the effects of the worldwide financial meltdown, but we also have to deal with a five-year old who has discovered (and then wholeheartedly embraced) the concepts of money, trade and rampant consumerism.
"What songs do you know?" I ask, reaching for my jeans, and dying a little inside when I see her face brighten visibly at the soft clink of coins in the front pocket.
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star?" she offers.
"What else?"
"The La-la-la song?"
"Is that the one when you just sing 'La-la-la' to whatever tune comes into your head?"
"Uh-huh. What else?"
"Twinkle Twinkle Little Rabbit."
"How does that one go?"
"It sounds like 'Twinkle Twinkle', but instead it is about a little rabbit."
"I see. Have you changed anything else? Does it still rhyme?
"No - it is just the same, but instead of 'star' I say 'rabbit'.
"Well, OK. In that case, I will have one 'La-la-la' song, please."
She pretends to clear her throat and then sings the 'La-la-la' song. Somewhat inevitably, on this occasion it turns out to be to the tune of 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'.
"Very good" I say, rooting the loose coins out of my pocket. What little change I have all looks to be worryingly like high-denomination coins, so I have to do my best to hide it from her. Fortunately, I spy a lone twenty pence piece, and with the deftness of a ninja extricate it from my clenched fist without it clinking against any other coins.
"Here you go" I say, handing it over. "Well done."
"Thank you very much" she says.
There is a pause. She looks at me expectantly.
"Yes?" I ask.
"Mummy always buys three songs" she says.
"Oh, does she?"
"Yes. And she said you would buy three songs as well."
"Well, of course she did. And we can't argue with your mother, can we now?"
"No?" she says tentatively,.
"No. There's so little point, after all..." I mutter, in the resigned voice of a man who is looking at the very real possibility of having to pay at least £1.70 to endure three slightly different variations of the song 'Twinkle Twinkle' before his breakfast. "But the thing is, I haven't got any money left..."
She looks at my tightly clenched hand with clear skepticism. She is, after all, her mother's daughter, which means she has a full range of finely honed senses for detecting my own particular brand of bullshit.
"Where has your money gone?" she asks.
"I don't know. Perhaps the sharks took it?"
"Don't be silly, Daddy. There are no sharks in bed."
"No, not now, there isn't. Your sister rescued me from them...."
"Da-deeeeee...." she whines.
"I haven't got any more coins. Honest..." I lie.
She thinks about this.
"You can owe me" she decides.

1 comment:

Misterimpatient said...

"Good morning" she tuts. "Daddy, I will sing you a song if you give me some money."

How many year must pass before Dad replies: And what will you do if I don't give you some money?

Answer: Sing two songs.