Kids say the funniest things.
Like: “Help! Help! Let me out of the cupboard!”
My brief daydream respite is shattered by Pootles and Tootles. “Jonny! Jonny! Read us another story!”
I sigh in defeat as LTLP and Friend snigger on the sofa. Again, there is no way out. Deep breath, storytelling voice.
“Call me Ishmael…” I begin.
There are frowns, and a book is thrust at me. Clearly I am not allowed a story of my choosing. And yes – here it is again – would you believe it – Mr. Fucking Cocksucking Nonsense.
(Note to Roger Hargreaves’s lawyers – I added the swear words above for effect, it is not an actual book that has been produced without Mr Hargreaves’s knowledge. Although if he is interested in following up the idea I would be happy to discuss licensing it).
“Fifteen minutes.” I say firmly, drawing from an undreamt-of well of resolve. “I’ll read you a story in fifteen minutes.”
I grab my mug of tea and scarper off upstairs to snatch some quiet contemplation.
Ten minutes later, and they crash through the door of my private retreat.
“Jesus Christ!” I exclaim. “I don’t think…”
“Jonny! Jonny! Whatya doing?”
“Girls, I really think…”
They start playing with the hand towels.
“Are you doing a wee wee or a poo?” enquires Tootles.
“A poo,” I reply, desperate to end this interaction there and then. “Now…”
“Do you want to meet Mr. Monkey?”
Despair and desolation settle over me, as I slump helplessly on the seat, my pants round my ankles, waiting for Social Services to burst in and put an end to this nightmare for good. Mr. Monkey turns out to be a moth-eaten glove puppet.
“Mr. Monkey’ll give you the toilet paper,” she announced, as the thing wrestled, emu-like, with the bogroll.
Miserably, I accepted three sheets of toilet paper from Mr. Monkey. I’m sure I have been in less dignified situations. I can’t remember when.