A seaside town in Cornwall.
I am sitting, pretending to gaze out to sea, but in actual fact my eyesight seems to be deteriorating at an alarming rate so I am just actually gazing vacantly at a vague grey blur: it could be anything, really - but I can hear seagulls, the air smells faintly of fish and the car park was stupidly expensive, so I'm going to go ahead assume it actually is the English seaside. The faint spatter of rain suggests it is, anyway.
Snuggled next to me, gazing out at the scene, (which she can presumably see in far greater clarity) is Eldest. She is wrapped in a black and white polka-dotted waterproof jacket with a hood, which she has zipped it up tightly against the elements, giving her the appearance of a ninja Dalmatian. All I can really see of her is a vague opening that contains a huge pair of eyes, though there must be a mouth in there somewhere as well, because an ice-cream is disappearing into the gap at an alarming rate. Her mother and sister are currently absent, away somewhere queueing for the toilet yet again. We seem to spent a lot of our 'quality leisure time' as a family queueing for toilets. Fortunately, as both our children are girls, this is my wife's responsibility - she tells me that the length of the queue tends to be in inverse proportion to the quality of the surroundings when you finally get to your seat, so I'm pretty happy to not be involved. On this occasion both Wife and Youngest have been gone for quite some time, so I idly wonder if the operation has gone as smoothly as it might - I live in dread of a repeat of the infamous '2009 Legoland incident' (which was the occasion when after queuing for thirty minutes for the only serviceable cubicle, Youngest decided to exit by sliding out on her back through the gap under the door - leaving it locked from within, to my Wife's embarrassment and the despair of thirty onlookers with crossed legs). I gaze into the middle distance and shudder at the recollection.
"Daddy," asks Eldest, suddenly, "What do you think of your holiday?"
I look down into her hood aperture. What I can see of her looks genuinely interested. I am suddenly quite touched.
"Well," I say "I know the weather's not great, but I'm having a good time. It's always nice to go away together, isn't it? And it's lovely for me to see so much of you and your sister, because I often miss you when I've been at work all day.You're both growing up so quickly, so it's great for me to spend time with you and just relax. So: I like my holiday very much. Thank you for asking."
The hood nods slightly, as if carefully digesting this information.
"What do you think about it?" I ask.
"I think you are a bum-clown" she replies, without missing a beat.
I pause. I must have misheard.
"Yes - a bum-clown. A clown whose head is a bum."
I gaze sadly back out to sea, lost for words.
"His whole head..." she clarifies.
I nod mutely.
"I just made that up" she adds proudly.
"I see..." I manage to say.
Behind me I can hear raised voices coming from the toilet block. I sigh, and think: four more days and I can go back to work...
"Can I have another ice-cream?" asks Eldest.
"No," I say. "On the whole, I think not..."
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
A seaside town in Cornwall.