I munch my meal.
Something subconsciously disturbs me, sneaking into the top of my vision as I stare at my bowl. I glance up quickly and throw my head back in alarm.
It is an Ood!!! Sat opposite me in the restaurant, staring with vacant yet deep Ood eyes across the table at me, its alien mind peering into my very soul, considering dispassionately whether to absorb my consciousness into the universal morass of Oodkind!!! My jaw drops open in frozen terror.
I blink. Oh. No. It is just the Toddler, eating noodles.
We finish our lunch with no more misunderstandings. Then later, when we have all returned from the Didoesque Hell of the post-Christmas sales, we discover that she has lost Boris the Dog.
Boris the Dog has been with the Toddler since day one – he has slept with her every single night for three years, he has been a playmate in good times, he has been something to clutch fiercely in moments of misery. His ear has been sucked to pieces, he has fallen in the bath, he has been cuddled, stroked, pulled, used in games of catch and made to listen to our banjo/kazoo duo. He has travelled to Canada, to Cornwall, to family and friends, to the supermarket, to the beach. And now he is irretrievably lost, somewhere in Norwich.
“Never mind,” she says cheerfully on being told the news. “I can play with lamb instead.” Meanwhile tears stream down mine and the LTLP’s faces, and we get horribly drunk that night on blackberry vodka.
She has not mentioned him since, apart from to comment that he got lost.
I learnt a lot of things over Christmas. I thought my main lesson was going to be that if you visit Banham Zoo, you are best advised to check out the animals on the brink of extinction before you join the queue for the cafe. But it has been hard to accept that my daughter is going to grow up and become a serial killer.
I miss him. Oh Boris! Boris! Orange peel! Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, prevent the… oh.
I worry that I am getting a bit sentimental.