Hey Mr Tambourine Man

There are lots of unanswered questions in life: Schrodinger’s Cat conundrum for instance, the fridge light issue, trees falling in an unoccupied forest, do dwarves have knees and who hell has snuck in and used our downstairs toilet, because the skid marks that have been left in it by someone make it look like the wall of death, but the one I most want answering, and at the same time, I don’t, is what will the twins turn out like when they are older?

They have had their own very distinct personalities since birth and with each passing day these develop more. I have always said that Arthur will be the brains behind the operation. That’s not to say that Henry is thick; far from it. They just do things contrarily and their methodology is very different to one another. Arthur thinks things through very carefully before committing to doing anything. You can see this in the way he eats and drinks. He was the first of the two to master a sippy-cup. He was the first of the two to master getting a single pea picked up from his high-chair tray and into his mouth. Henry is only a few days behind in all of these activities, usually, so it’s not like he’s backward or anything. He is though, altogether more physical in the way he goes about things and just big fat does whatever it is he is going to do and then thinks about it afterwards. I have long imagined them both at some point in the future, Arthur saying to Henry, “Just chuck a stone at that greenhouse and see what happens”. Henry will surely chuck the stone; of that I have no doubt. But I’m onto them already, so Arthur better not think he is getting away with anything. At the first sign of a pane of glass being smashed, I will refer both boys to this particular piece of writing. Think of this particular blog post then, as a time capsule that requires smashed glass to unlock it.

Both are slackers, at heart. As we hurtle towards their first birthday (which at the time of writing is one week away – where did that go? How the hell did we manage to keep them alive for so long?) neither of them has really shown any inclination to crawl. They can both stand beautifully if supported either by us or something at waist to chest height such as a sofa or a coffee table. They have to be lifted up there though – there is no doing it by themselves. Mrs Aitchworld and I are considered staff to be there at their beck and call and while they have this, I am in great doubt as to whether they will move under their own power at all. I had a Vauxhall Nova like this once, so I know the signs. On the one hand, this might be considered quite annoying, but in view of how fast the last twelve months has disappeared, it is quite nice that they are still more baby than toddler. And once they do start moving, we don’t need to be disabused of the notion that they are bound to go off in different directions. If one of us is on our own with them when this happens the one we go after first will be dictated by whichever of them is in the most danger.

I am dreading the boys’ first birthday next week. And not just because it is a significant milestone and that it means that time is flying by at an ever increasing (and depressing) speed. I’ve said before that I don’t really get upset by much, but I hate the whole ageing process and it depresses me if I think about it too much – it is a cruel fate that humans are fully aware that we are getting older and ever closer to death. It was especially brought home to me the other day when my dad said I could keep the wallpaper steamer he had lent me some months earlier, because he wouldn’t ever use it again. In my heart, I wanted to believe this is because he is far too busy gallivanting and having lots of fun and holidays. While this is true to an extent and he is doing that, and lots of it, there is also the underlying feeling that it is because he feels he is too old to do that sort of thing any more. But that sort of thing is what dads do! I’m guessing at some point the sons take over and end up doing the DIY for their dads, but I hope mine isn’t expecting me to do that any time soon because I can’t find time to finish all the stuff I’ve started on our house, never mind starting on my folks’ place. Mind you, if that is the way life and the generations hand things on, I’d better start stuffing a paintbrush and a power tool in the hands of the boys now so that they can take over at an early age and I can get on with gallivanting.

The other reason I’m not looking forward to the boys’ birthday is that we have very generous friends. At the risk of being presumptuous, we have suggested to a number of people that they shouldn’t buy them presents and instead we would rather donate money to the charity whose premises we are using for their birthday do, but the gifts presents have already started to trickle through. Don’t get me wrong, the things they have been given so far are beautiful and they will be used and they are very much appreciated. It’s just that the boys don’t really need anything. People have already been so kind to us and them – they have had gifts lavished upon them since the day they were born and as a result we have already lost one living room to plastic tat, as I have already documented. If they get any more, we are at risk of losing another room.

Then again, if it gives us a chance to rid out some of their older toys, it might be a good opportunity. I do wonder what goes through the minds of some toy designers. We have one, an electronic tambourine finished in a garish hue of orange, which baffles me completely. Despite containing some loosely secured plastic discs, if you shake it, it does not rattle. To get it to rattle you have to switch it on (battery levels permitting) and press a button, which then causes it to emit an electronic sound that could be construed as a tambourine type noise, if you were suffering from tinnitus and an excessive build-up of wax. And scuba diving. It then goes on to play a series of confederate songs from the American Civil War, including Yankee Doodle Dandy, through to I Wish I Was In Dixie Land, culminating in a crescendo of March of the Swiss Soldier by Rossini, more commonly known as the William Tell Overture, or the Lone Ranger theme. The boys love it. As soon as it is switched on, they will drop whatever else they are holding and try to grab this thing.

They also love anything with a bit of string attached. One of the toys we have been given is a pull along telephone. Despite protesting that I was brought up in abject poverty, only having lumps of coal to play with and never any toys, I am fairly sure I had one of these as a child, and Mrs Aitchworld is confident that one occupied her household when she was growing up. Arthur will push it away from him then grab the string to pull it back towards him. The problem with this is that the cats also like anything with a bit of string stuck to it. The other day, in a brief period when the boys were playing unsupervised, Charlie cat must have been watching Arthur play with this telephone and when the timing was just right, the instant between the ‘phone being at maximum distance away from Arthur and the string momentarily beyond his grasp, Charlie went for it. The problem was that Charlie got a claw stuck in the string and panicked. He rushed downstairs, where I was sterilising some bottles, with said claw still stuck firmly in the nylon string and the telephone crashing down behind him, following him everywhere, which panicked him further still.

As the boys develop, so do their tastes in television. I have already pondered (and still do) about that Night Garden thing, but the boys still adore it. As music is close to my heart, I have somehow learned that on any toy or xylophone with five notes or more, I can play the opening couple of bars to the theme tune, which amuses them no end. I’ve impressed one or two of the other mums at various parties too with my musical prowess! It fell flat on its face when I performed it to someone who hadn’t had children as she hadn’t a clue what the tune was. Finally, I am appreciating the huge gulf that exists between parents and non-parents. Because the boys love it so greatly, much to my eternal regret (and shame), we have booked tickets to go and see Night Garden Live. This is what my life has become. How did we sink so low? At least though, they are starting to get into other things…

I had heard good things about Peppa Pig from other parents. It seems, like the Clangers (I love the Clangers) to have something for parents as well as the children. The first time I searched for it on the iPlayer though something went a bit wrong, because the programme I was watching was all in Welsh and was called Peppa Pinc. I watched an entire episode in Welsh, just in case I was missing something (other than vowels). It was only at the end and other episodes came up in English that I realised my error. (Or rrr as they say in Welsh. Maybe that’s where George gets his din’saur growl from). Once I had watched a few episodes in the correct language though, I was hooked. It is brilliant; utterly genius. I have to check the credits after each episode as I can’t quite believe the quality of some of the cast that they drag in off the street to do the voices!

The Twirlywoos are pretty good, if only for the theme music, and Henry in particular loves it. But one programme I just can’t get on with is Bing. In the opening credits of every episode, the Panda in it stops as the group of animals are walking along and just takes his shorts off. I had no idea what this was all about, so I googled it (I know, I know) and apparently it is a Bing thing. But then, in summary at the end of every episode, everything is a Bing thing. Breathing? It’s a Bing thing. Eating and drinking to survive? It’s a Bing thing. Taking a dump? It’s a Bing thing. One of the only things that isn’t a Bing thing is having two embryos implanted and ending up with twins. That, apparently, is an Aitchworld thing.




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