My daughters' favourite song at the moment begins, rather optimistically: "When you come to think of it, waking up is fun..."
They trill it first thing in the
morning, when the sky is still a murky grey outside and the alarm has a good quarter of an hour's lee-way before it is due to wake me up. But who needs an alarm clock with a regular choir of early risers in the next bedroom?
"Open your eyes, what a surprise, morning time's begun," they sing, full of the joys of a nasty, damp, dark, cold winter morning. Not so much a surprise, more a rude shock, I couldn't help thinking as young Steven dropped the alarm
clock on my head. And if you think that's an exaggeration, then I have the mark to prove it, just above the right ear.
"Who let you out of your cot?" I groaned.
"He climbed out, mummy, all by himself," said Anne, proudly, "This is the first morning he has ever climbed out all by himself, without any help."
"Great!" I mourned.
"He climbed over the side of the cot and onto the chest of drawers and then he sort of slithered to the ground." Tarzan of the Apes grinned triumphantly at me and clambered into bed between his father and me. There were three
in the bed.
"Are you properly awake yet, Mummy?" Anne wanted to know, peering into my face. I opened one eye and informed her that I was about as awake as I was likely to be this side of ten o'clock.
"Oh, good,"she said, pulling the beclothes away from my shrinking shoulders. "Because this is important. Today I've got to play two tunes on my recorder to Mrs Finnis - and if I'm good enough I can go to Tuesday
"Is that good?" I enquired, weakly.
"Of course it is. It means I'll be able to go to Stamp Club on Mondays and recorder lessons
on Tuesdays - so every single day I'll have something to look forward to when I get up in the morning. Wednesday is choir, Thursday is netball, Friday is sewing club...the thing is, Mummy, will you listen to me?" She plumped herself on the pillow
near my head and crossed her legs. "You can join in with the fa-la-las, if you like," she offered, kindly. There were four in the bed.
Drawn by the music, like the children after the Pied Piper,
came Little Nan into the bedroom, peering through a curtain of tangled curls. "I didn't know that everyone was coming into your bed, Mummy," she said. Nor did I, but that's another matter. "Did you know," continued my youngest daughter, tucking two cold feet
into the bed with me, "that I can touch my nose with the tip of my toungue? Watch..." There were five in the bed.
Hilary, fully dressed and ready for breakfast, surveyed us, puzzled. She had, she informed
us, managed to get dressed with her eyes shut. I didn't ask why. "What are you all doing in there?" she asked. It ought to have been obvious, I thought, that we were playing recorders, warming our cold feet, touching the tips of our noses with our tongues
- what else would we be doing at seven o'clock in the morning? In no time at all there were six in the bed.
Outside it had started to rain and we could hear the sharp pattering on the window pane.
Inside the alarm clock decided it was time to get up.
"It's a lovely morning, isn't it?" enthused Anne, "Steven's learnt how to climb out of his cost, Karen can touch her nose with her tongue, Hilary
can get dressed with her eyes closed and I'm going to Tuesday recorders with a little bit of luck..."
When you come to think of it, waking up is fun.
Evening Mail, Thursday February 20th 1975