Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Butt-flies, gi-ants and hungry caterpillars

And so, on a blustery and wet bank Holiday Monday, to Butterfly World, newly opened for the Summer season. Their website explained very carefully that only phase one (of three) of the build was complete, so my expectations were duly curtailed ("No, kids, I'm afraid the giant tropical biodome will not be ready - but where it will stand there is a large chalk outline of a butterfly on the ground that you can...look at"), but even so, I was kind of hoping to see, well, a butterfly or two. That seems reasonable, no?
It's not that I'm a huge butterfly fan, or anything, but when an attraction goes to all the trouble of putting an insect so prominently in their name, you do kind of expect a few of them to be knocking about. Sadly, I saw none. I am certain they were there: there was a tropical greenhouse to go into, which under the circumstances it would have been surprising if it contained, say, lizards - but there was a queue, and my need to see butterflies is not as great as my need not to stand out in intermittent drizzle for 45 minutes. And there was plenty else to see, after all.
"There are no butt-flies here..." says Youngest, shivering at my side as we gaze up at the 50ft tall sculpture of an ant that stands a short walk from the cafe.
"No..." I agree, thinking that in this wind they wouldn't have a prayer anyway, they'd all be blown out to sea. "Not yet, anyway. Maybe we'll see some later."
"There was a butt-fly in our garden..." says Youngest.
"Yes," I agree, the sad truth being that the only butterfly we have seen so far today was the one we encountered on the path while walking from our house to the car. And that one was dead.
"This is a model of an ant..." observes Eldest, her neck craned, her brow furrowed.

"Yes..." I agree, somewhat needlessly.
"Why?"
"What do you mean, why? It's a sculpture. It's just for looking at."
"Yes, but why is it an ant?"
"I don't really know."
"This is Butterfly World. And they made a sculpture of an ant..."
"Yes.."
"A really big, giant ant"
"Yes?"
"Why isn't it a butterfly? For Butterfly World?"
"I...I don't know.
"This isn't Ant World. It doesn't make sense..."
"No, I guess not..."
There is a pause. She gazes up at it, impassively, as if seeking some deeper meaning in its fibreglass mandibles.
"Perhaps," she decides, "the people who made it are all stupid."
"No," I say, hastily. "I'm sure that's not it..."
"Maybe they do not know the difference between an ant and a butterfly..."
"I'm sure they do..."
"Butt-flies have wings" adds Youngest, in case the point needed clarification.
"Exactly..." says Eldest, as if this has proved her theory.
"Oh, look, shall we go over there?" I suggest, pointing in the direction of the gift shop.
"They can stick wings on later..." suggests Youngest.
"That will not be a butterfly" says Eldest, dismissively. "That will just be an ant with wings."
"Perhaps it's a joke?" I suggest. "It's a giant ant. A giant. A gi-ant. See?"
Neither child laughs. Youngest looks confused. Eldest looks scornful.
"But that is a really bad joke..." she says in wonderment, as if the lunacy of adults never ceases to amaze her.
"Let's see what all those people are looking at..." I say, dragging them away.
What they are looking at, it turns out, is somebody dressed up as the Very Hungry Caterpillar.
"Wow, look!", I say to Youngest. "It's the Very Hungry Caterpillar! You love him..."
She shrinks back and hides behind my legs.
"What's the matter? I ask
"He is big..." she says, eyes wide.
"Yes?"
"He might eat me..."
"What? Don't be silly! He is lovely! Why would he eat you?"
"Because he is hungry. It is his name..."
"He is very hungry..." corrects Eldest.
"He doesn't eat people!" I say. "He's a caterpillar. He eats fruit..."
"Actually he eats lots of things," corrects Eldest. "He eats anything  He eats sausage on the last day. And salami. So he likes meat..."
"I don't like him.." say Youngest, in a tiny voice.
Eldest studies the Very Hungry Caterpillar appraisingly, as if weighing him up.
"I think he might eat children" she decides. As she speaks, the first drops of very heavy rain start to spot the tarmac.
"Let's go home" I decide.

4 comments:

Traceyr said...

What a shame you didn't get to see any butterflies hope you complained?

Your kids sound very intelligent. :)

Jaime said...

I think it is most sensible to be frighten of someone hidden inside a hugry caterpiller suit especially when he might be in league with Grumblemouth.

PDC said...

@TraceyR: Ah, it was quite a nice day really. And I didn't want to complain, because I think it will be good when it's done.

I don't know about the kids intelligence: certainly neither seems capable of flushing a toilet after they've used it...

@Jaime: Grumblemouth has had to be permanently retired, as he/it was deemed 'overly traumatic'...

Gerry Snape said...

Sensible children these, who wants a man in a caterpiller suit if there are real ones on the go?