The day started earlier than any other Adventures day…at 03.13 precisely. I know it was that time, because it glowed green in my bedroom from my Roberts Atomic cube clock. The clock receives the time signal from Rugby somewhere and is guaranteed to be accurate to within one second in a million years. I am not sure whether I will be around to check, probably not, but it does keep great time and helped me never be late for work.
I lay staring at the clock as Alfie was deposited into our loving care by Aunt Bes! She had been on nursery duty and had been trying for some time to get him back to sleep downstairs in the nursery, after he had woken up sometime earlier… but Alfie was having none of it. Neither did he feel any more sleepy in my bed – the one that I share with the lady of the house. She had tried unsuccessfully to get the little darling back to sleep…but he was way too excited…today was Friday.
Her patience wearing thin amid reminding that she had to go to work later! I rose to the challenge and took Alfie down stairs to play. He was happy, excited and singing. At that precise moment I was not all that happy, not all that excited and did not feel much like singing.
We went into the lounge; I put the TV on and found a few things for Alfie to play with. I wrapped a blanket round myself to keep warm and thought…’What a lovely little grandson I have!’ I was kind of wishing Mia and Millie could join us for this unexpected bit of fun but thought their parents might not appreciate an 03.50 call.
I thought we would start with a midnight feast and raided the biscuit barrel. I felt sure we could finish that lot off and judging by Alfie’s smile he thought the same way. He was signing PLEASE as I walked into the room.
A cup of coffee for me and a cup of warm milk for the boy finished the preparation. We had fun. Alfie played and then realised he could climb up into the chair we have had since our older kids were Alfie’s age. Once he knew he could do it he did it a hundred times! Climb up. Turn round, wiggle his bottom till he felt comfortable, look very pleased with himself and then repeat the process.
I started watching TV and watched by far the best three programmes I have seen for a long time. The first was called Bringing Books to Life, when famous people picked a book they loved and read it and acted out little scenes from it. This was followed by a programme in which some actors, mimed children’s stories; I didn’t catch the name of the programme, but I loved watching it. The third one was called Seeking Refuge. In it, five REAL kids spoke of their journeys to the UK to live. Anyone who thinks badly of immigrants coming to our country to find a peaceful place to grow up should be forced to watch it. In a few of them I felt a tear running down the side of my face, as I realised again how some children suffer so horrendously in life. I was so glad little Alfie is surrounded by love and fun and people who care for him.
The lady of the house came down, looking radiant, just after seven and was confronted by a scruffy, unshaven, shivering wreck and a little boy both of whom had been having such fun. She gazed suspiciously at the empty biscuit tin,
but then smiled with much love as her eyes set upon the fat little scruffy, unshaven, shivering wreck that she had married in the dim and distant past! Then she saw Alfie still climbing in and out of his chair and swept him away to be fed, watered and changed, expressing her undying love as she did so!
I noticed that when Alfie stood up the crutch of his nappy was dragging along the floor, weighing no doubt several kilos… and I thought maybe I should have changed him some time before.
Alfie was soon cleaned and well fed and sleeping soundly in the cot and I took advantage of a few spare hours ahead of me and an empty nursery bed to claw back some of that lost sleep. It had been fun and I felt honoured to sleep in the nursery bed. I thought of all those who had slept in it before me, the lady of the house, Bes, Margaret Davis and many others.
As I closed my eyes and thought how lovely electric blankets were, my mind went back to that programme I had watched Bringing Books to life. If I were ever famous enough to be asked I would read Boy by Roald Dahl. I would read The Great Mouse Plot and Mrs Pratchett’s revenge…. sheer magical brilliance. Part of me is so sad that I have many teacher friends and not one of them has ever asked me to come in and read with their class. I have only had one chance to read since I retired and hung up my chalkboard duster, and that was to some older ladies in Coffee Morning. I even managed to squeeze in a reading of Boy there and they lapped it up and went hysterical when I stopped! I have been invited to read my story of Noman the Snowman in the Cathedral School soon. That will be fun, even more fun as that school was the school that Roald Dahl went to when he was young.
As I thought about the programme I also thought how much fun it would be to bring a story to life with Alfie and one sprang to life immediately…
Burglar Bill is a great story for kids about a burglar who steals among other things an old cardboard box only to discover it contains a little baby. He sets about looking after the baby on his own and does a great job. Later, when he was in bed one day, he gets burgled himself by Burglar Betty. It turns out that the baby is hers and eventually…
You will have to read the book yourself to find out what happens but I thought….BRILLIANT! We have all the characters ready, I could be Burglar Bill, the lady of the house is the spit of Burglar Betty anyway, and Alfie could be the kid.
We could take schools by storm. That’s it… today’s adventure would be to turn ourselves into those delightful characters. A trip to town was on the cards.
We awoke around 11.30 and I thought I had better feed Alfie before we set off.
We caught the train into Cardiff and started the search for costumes.
We started with some of the Charity Shops near the station without success and then made our way around other shops.
Some of the costumes I was not sure about. We even visited M & S and found a strong contender. Alfie checked the label carefully but was not sure it was right!
I saw an ideal one in a shop in one of the arcades but even though it was extra large, I had a struggle to get it much passed my shoulders. I was in the changing room with Alfie’s pushchair in the doorway, he was giggling away, and I am sure a couple of the customers thought I looked like Burglar Bill getting ready to go out on a job.
Frustrated, we made our way home, but we did so by going past the joke shop in the High Street Arcade and met with some success I found the perfect mask! Yes, we were making progress. I asked some pretty young girls outside the shop if they would take a photo of me to mark the progress we had made, albeit small progress, but progress none the less. I put the mask on and approached them I could see the fear in their eyes as they gripped their mobile phones very tightly – I knew then that Burglar Bill was going to work, even without my stripy top I could scare people!
The relief was audible when I made it known that I wanted a photograph and was not about to steal their beloved iPhones. There was a bit of giggling, but they did the job and smiled again as I wished them well and went on my way, pushing my little man ahead of me. I did wonder if I would be apprehended by the boys in blue, when I realised I had forgotten to take my mask off. But all was well.
Feeling happy that progress had been made I decided it was time to eat and Alfie agreed. It was time to continue his education with a visit to The Louis on St Mary Street. A visit there is like a step back into the past. A quaint old place with waitresses, the youngest no less than sixty and another lady who sits in a little cash desk by the door collecting the money. Hand written bills are issued and the whole experience is truly lovely! One of the tables is taken over by the manager/owner and it is covered by a mountain of paperwork. He wears a massive bunch of keys on his belt , almost like a prison officer, but fusses around in a very caring way. It’s got to be the best place in Cardiff, quiet, peaceful and sophisticated in an ordinary kind of way. I was starving and ordered an all day breakfast and scrambled egg on toast for the lad. My pot of tea came in silver pots and included a pot of hot water without me even asking.
We had fun. Alfie had the whole restaurant smiling with affection at his antics. He threw everything he could lay his hands on onto the floor, sang loudly and smiled broadly at everyone.
Two clean plates later, we paid the lady at the cash desk. I was thinking that maybe The Louis have never heard of time and motion studies. She did put her knitting down while she counted my change back to me.
We made our way back to the station to catch a train home and Alfie fell asleep. 03.13 seemed a long time ago. He didn’t wake till his dad came to pick him up.
On the train I closed my eyes and we both dreamt of burglars and boxes and Bringing Books to life in a big way!
We had fun.. but be warned and make sure your doors are locked tonight….and every night!