FaceTime really is a wonderful thing.
Though it is better when your family at the other end can actually hear what you are saying.
I am "talking" to the Welsh Boys (only one of whom can really be described as "little" these days) and my prattling away is clearly falling on deaf ears. "We can't hear you!" My Boy tells me, while Young Sam nods confirmation at his side. I do my best
to correct matters at my end but, to be honest, I haven't the faintest what buttons I should be pressing. At least I can hear them, I say, to blank looks at the other end.
Sam has plenty to tell and show me
so off he goes. He has earned his Artist badge at Cubs. Short pause while he hares off to find his Great Masterpiece which has already been proudly framed. It features a wizard, a dragon and a mouse dangling from a parachute and is, indeed, amazing, I tell
him, completely forgetting that he can't hear me. I give him the thumbs up (using both thumbs for good measure) and jiggle them about a bit to signify excitement. I think he understands my sign language because he is off again to fetch his model elephant,
a thing of great beauty made up from an empty milk bottle, a piece of carpet and cardboard. The elephant even has a jewel in one ear. Someone needs to tell Prince William that he didn't have to go all the way to China to see elephants when he could have simply
taken the train to Cardiff Central.
There follows a short interlude while Sam is replaced by his brother James on the sofa next to his father. While the changeover is being effected I tackle the sound problem
by turning off and on again. This is my time-honoured way of dealing with any mechanical or technological failures and lo and behold, it works. My boys can now hear me, loud and clear.
James has been to a
party. He is dressed up as a soldier in camouflage uniform, and gives me a smart salute. He seems a little hazy on whether he enjoyed a party lunch or a party tea. If he seems a little preoccupied, My Boy explains, it is because he and his brothers were watching
Power Rangers in the room next door before he was called upon to speak to me.
Next in line is Morgan, aka the Duracell Bunny. He leaves the Power Rangers without a backward look, bless him, when invited to
come and talk to Nanna. He has been swimming with Daddy, he tells me, then treats me to a rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Apparently he has been singing this ever since Christmas and will probably, on present showing, still be singing it when
Christmas 2015 comes round. He then sings me Georgy Porgy, that famous nursery rhyme about the boy who kisses the girls and makes them cry. I rather think the Duracell Bunny will be a heart-breaker one day but hopefully somewhat kinder than old Georgy Porgy.
At least, as a song, it has the benefit of not being time-limited. Unlike Rudolph.
I remember Jack and Hazel when they were Morgan's age: telephone conversations with them invariably consisted of one reciting
the alphabet and the other that ditty about counting on your fingers, catching a fish alive and letting go the one that bit your little finger, the one on the right. Whoever wrote that nursery rhyme must have been intoxicated. Nevertheless, I can still recall,
with love, those one-way conversations, when my job was simply to respond with appropriate praise.
Like FaceTime, the telephone is a fantastic communication tool. But it's not the same as being there. It's
not the same as a great bear hug, of shining faces beaming a welcome, of drawing a little one onto your knee and holding him tight, as if never to let him go. It's not the same as cuddling up to read the next instalment of the Tales of the Jolly Boy Boat,
with the boys constantly interrupting with their own versions of "what happens next."
I'm therefore checking on National Rail Enquiries for an Easter trip to Wales. I think I need a "Nanna Visit" before my
Little Welsh Boys start to think I am just another character on the screen and one, moreover, far less exciting than the Power Rangers.
At least that way I can positively guarantee being both seen and heard.