We enjoy leisurely breakfasts at the weekend. Maude made pancakes on Saturday morning. This usually means that she can call Augusta for a catch-up as the kids eat pancakes in something approaching quietness. I tried to slip away for a quick shower to galvanise myself for a day of occupying and pleasing 2 small children and 1 wife.
‘I can see your winky through the glass!’
I’m usually joined in our compact bathroom by at least one child. Casta led the incursion. Maude and Aurora brought up the rear with an urgent mission to paint toenails under the bright light that only the bathroom can offer.
I stepped out into the now bright lights of the bathroom and kilted myself in a warm towel. The girls were temporarily distracted in choosing their colour of nail varnish. Maude was temporarily distracted, or possibly transfixed, by my middle-aged physique. She stared a cold stare at my top half.
‘What are you looking at darling?’
‘Nothing. But it’s funny the way you kind of curve at the waist now.’ She turned to the girls and giggled ’a bit like a lady.’
Aurora giggled behind her hand and Casta launched herself into a loud guffaw which convinced me that she had no idea what had just been said.
‘But seriously’, my wife continued, ’Isn’t it amazing how our bodies have disintegrated? That blue would really work girls.’
Tonight I tried to remind Maude of this tonic of an exchange as we shared the sofa and watched television. She was tapping her bare foot on my knee to the beat of one of her favourite ‘oldies’ : ‘Together in Electric Dreams’.
‘Would you mind not resting any part of your disintegrating person on my person. I fear you might leave some kind of residue.’
Maude glanced at me and laughed a loud laugh which again convinced me that she hadn’t heard a word I’d been saying.
She was lost in a reverie – possibly one in which she was riding through neon Las Vegas in the back of Phil Oakey’s convertible.
‘Oh I wish I could go back...’ Maude was slightly glazed and seemed to be thinking aloud.
’…Go back to that Happy Place. Where all the sixth form boys gave me longing looks and whispered to each other. This was always playing at the school discos.’
‘I thought that this suburban idyll with me and the girls was the ‘Happy Place’ to eclipse all other happy places, darling.’
The TV stopped playing the Happy Place song. Maude collected herself and retrieved the remote control from somewhere under her bottom. She looked around and seemed slightly startled that I was in the room:
‘Sorry Darling, did you say something? If it was the offer of a cup of tea, yes I’d love one.’