Posted by Tania Kindersley.
It is very, very difficult to stay grumpy when things like this happen:
I was sitting at breakfast, drinking my black-as-pitch coffee, the kind that is so strong you can stand the spoon up in it, eating my bacon, and half-thinking about my work for the day. The two older children had just left for school. The Four-Year-Old was noodling about with the dogs.
Suddenly, she presented herself at my side, quivering with excitement.
‘I am going to get dressed,’ she announced. One sort of felt she really needed a soundtrack to go with this pronouncement, something heavy on the string section, with a bit of brass going on.
‘That is very thrilling,’ I said. ‘Are you going to choose your own special outfit?’
‘YES,’ she shouted, in delirious delight. (Imagine if one still got that same thrill from the mere fact of getting dressed. The endorphin level would be off the scale.)
She then raced down the corridor in her furry boots, singing that truly terrible Celine Dion number about Near, far, wherever you are, at the top of her voice, chased closely by three equally excited black dogs.
It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life.
I do not know when she started singing Celine Dion songs and I am not going to ask.
One of the Dear Readers suggested music as a remedy for the grumps yesterday, and I wonder now if that is not right. When I am at home, I suddenly realise, I sing a lot. I do wild shouty singing in the kitchen, when I am making my supper. I sing practically every morning, as I walk round the block with The Pigeon.
Because of being so far in the north of Scotland, away from houses and people, a big part of my walk is in the places where one cannot be overheard. So I can belt out Turning Japanese, or St Dominic’s Preview, or Simple Twist of Fate, or, a more contemporary favourite from the little mop-tops that are Goldheart Assembly, King of Rome, without fear of being overheard.
I can’t do that here, because I am in a house full of people, and because it is the south, and there are not quite the same empty spaces where people cannot hear. (Although there is one little hidden wood I have my eye on that might be fine for belting.) Anyway, since I always like a new, half-baked theory, my new, half-baked theory is that perhaps my body is missing the singing.
The Four-Year-Old returns.
She has made the Pigeon a card. It consists of indecipherable calligraphy, quite long.
‘I’ll read it to you,’ the small person says.
‘Dear Pigeon, Thank you for coming on this day, I love you very much, and I know you like Noddy books’.
‘That’s a brilliant card,’ I say. (I feel slightly tearful. How does such a very young human remember the whole thing about the Pigeon and the Noddy books? It was almost a week ago. I am forty-five, and I can't remember what happened yesterday.)
The Four-Year-Old beams.
‘I’ve got one for you too,’ she says. She looks at me with a dark, knowing look. ‘It’s not pink,’ she says.
We have this continuing conversation, because her favourite colour is pink, and mine is not. In fact, I do not really like pink at all, except for the occasional flash of very dark cerise. Occasionally, the Four-Year-Old likes to check.
‘Do you still not really like pink?’ she will say, her head on one side.
‘No,’ I say, because one must never lie to children. ‘I like green.’
She clearly thinks this is quite peculiar, but she lets it go. I can see her thinking: just humour the old girl.
My card, which is not pink, says, according to its reader: ‘Thank you for coming. We have had an enormous day.’
‘An enormous what?’ I ask, as she reads this out. I want to check.
‘An enormous day,’ she says, with more smiles.
I love the idea that our day has already been vast. It is only eight-thirty in the morning. The Today Programme is not even over. Yet, there have been huge doings in this house.
The Four-Year-Old looks at me gravely. ‘I have to go back to my office,’ she says.
‘Good plan,’ I say.
I turn to typing, at the dear old kitchen table. The small person sits herself down with her notebook and her pen and her fold of stickers, and settles to serious work. She is quite absorbed now, silent, concentrating, focussed. She knows exactly what it is she is doing. I am, and shall remain, deeply impressed.
That all happened about eleven hours ago. In the meantime, I have done work, ridden the mare, made fruitless attempts to organise my time and map out logistics, and picked up my telephone to find a text message. I do not get very many text messages. I am not one of those people whose telephone hops and hums and squeaks and bleeps all the time. I quite often leave it off for days and do not even notice.
This text message was a dilly. It made me shout: OH YES. (You see the whole capital letters thing is really dying hard.) Oh, oh, oh, I said aloud. That is the best thing in the whole world, I said.
The third of my great-nieces was born this morning. The text told me that she arrived in rude health, weighing a tremendous eight pounds, and that everyone is doing well.
I've been worrying a bit, in the back of my mind, because I always do when a baby is on the way.
The news that all is well comes as both vast delight, real profound happiness, and great relief.
When I drive north this time, when I throw the car round the final mountain bends to my house, I shall have a whole new human to meet. It seems like an absolute miracle to me. When I left, there was not a person. Now there is.
Even as I write that sentence, even through the fog of tiredness that comes at the end of a long day, I smile.
Again, what with everything, I'm afraid there was no time for photographs. I do wish I were better at the organisation of time, but I suppose it is as well to know one's limitations. Hours run away from me like water. Here are a few random pictures from the last few days:
Here is the lovely little mare, again, who went very sweetly for me today. She really is a tremendously nice person:
Her slightly punk hairdo is because she was hogged, for her previous work. It is growing out, and soon shall be smart and normal.
Some elegant black and white Pigeon photographs:
With her friend in the south:
And the three small people, who today have a new sister:
If she is anything like as sweet as they are, she shall be a very, very splendid girl indeed.