Alexander, who is four years old, is teaching me a new nursery rhyme. About a shark and its family. His mother warns me that the tune of the Shark Song will be going round and round in my head for days to come. It turns
out that she is right.
I become a trifle concerned when, half way into the shark song, swims a little fish. I see disaster ahead. I have forgotten, of course,
that this is the 21st Century when no harm can befall any character in a nursery rhyme. In the Olden Days, when I was a child, Jack could come a cropper falling down a hill, have his poorly pate bound up in vinegar and brown paper (don’t try this at
home, folks) while Jill received a right whipping for causing Jack’s disaster. Even though it clearly took two of them to climb the hill to fetch a pail of water. Had they lived today, Jill would be venting her anger on social media using the hashtag
To return to the shark (I bet you thought I had been hopelessly diverted, didn’t you?) in the song Alexander teaches me the little fish is told to
swim away as fast as he (she? it?) can, thus escaping the unwelcome attentions of the shark’s teeth. A likely story, if you don’t mind me saying so.
Alexander also teaches me a new version of that well-known song about the fingers on your hand. I know them as Tommy Thumb, Pointer Finger, Middle Finger, Ring Finger and Finger Small. I struggle to learn Alexander’s version, though he
is an extremely patient teacher, because the old version is firmly lodged in my head. My Trio of Rampaging Rascals sing this song too - but, there being five members in their family, they allocate a finger to each person and introduce voices for each character
/ finger. Mummy finger, for example, sings in a sweet, cajoling voice. Daddy finger sings in a deep, deep, voice and his verse culminates in him saying: “Enough! Enough! Go to sleep now!” The fact that the Trio always break down in giggles as they
sing this verse makes me wonder just how much notice they actually take of their father’s dire warnings.
I met Alexander at Next Door’s barbecue. I
have met him before but he was very small then and hadn’t yet been introduced to the shark song. He draws his small fold-up seat up beside me - he likes sitting “in the circle” he tells me, seriously. I tell him, equally seriously, that I
The threatened storms stay away and we bask in the warm sunshine. I enjoy three rather large glasses of white wine (our hosts are generous indeed - or
could it be that my reputation has gone ahead of me?) and wonder whether they will affect my ability to put the portable ramps down when the time comes to return home. At least four fellas - occasionally five - gather around the gas barbecue where our food
is cooking. I joke that one is cooking, one is “management” and two are on Quality Control. However the tasks are allocated, it has to be said that the food is delicious.
There are few afternoons as special as sitting in a beautiful garden, supping wine, chatting about this, that and the other, eating burgers (vegetarian options available) and learning new versions to nursery rhymes.
Thank you to Matt-and-Jackie-Next-Door for inviting us over. Thanks to Gavin for negotiating, with Matt, the narrow alleyway with Mr B in his wheelchair. Thank you to everyone
for making us feel so very welcome to your gathering.
And thank you to Alexander for teaching me the Shark Song.
Which is still going round and round in my head twenty-four hours later...