I recently read a newspaper article suggesting that Hull might become The Venice of the North and was reminded of the time we had our Youngest Grandson and his cornet to stay.
They were only with us for a few days; he is a most affable child (and the cornet is generally well behaved).
If I cooked food that our Youngest Grandson wasn't sure about he didn't pull sick faces or make gagging noises, he tried his best.
This is an exchange we had when I gave him some salty spaghetti bolognaise. I could tell it was too salty because he was laughing like a loon at Ian's daft jokes and shifting food from one plate-zone to another in an attempt to wear it out; and also because it tasted too salty.
'Are you okay with that, or is it a bit salty for you?'
'It's fine, thanks. Oh, ho ho! Grandad, you're well-sad!'
He makes a small realignment of some bolognaise and lifts a couple of dangles of unadulterated pasta to his lips.
'Are you sure, is it perhaps not what you're used to at home and would you prefer to just have some pasta with grated cheese?'
Short pause. He shakes his head, sage-like, at Ian's infantile banter and appraises his plate.
'This is very nice Grandma, but it's not what I'm used to at home and maybe I would prefer to just have some pasta with grated cheese.'
In just a few days we managed to lose all his clothes and most of his homework. The majority of his clobber disappeared into the black hole that is After School Club. Turns out you're not meant to believe children when they say,
'It's in my bag.'
'It's okay, I left it in the drawer.'
'I didn't wear it today.'
Because what they're really saying is:
'Will you give it a rest, Grandma, with your inane interrogating, I've got important things to think about.'
We felt quite smug when we returned him to his mother because he was wearing his PE kit. It transpires the PE kit wasn't even his own; school had dressed him in that after he slipped on the field playing Tag (or was it Tig?).
'I thought the field was out of bounds in the winter?'
'Oh yes. It is.'
'My foot just caught the edge.'
He was no trouble at all. He let me read to him from his mother's 1970s Thomas the Tank Engine books and his uncle's Calvin and Hobbes and 1980s Beano Annuals. He pretended (for my sake) that playing Consequences is riotously hilarious fun.
Our Youngest Grandson couldn't believe how much we like to sleep, we do like to be in bed for 9.00 but we were extra exhausted when he was staying. I had completely forgotten how physically and emotionally draining small children are; you live in constant fear that some nameless, terrifying harm will befall them.
When my Other Middlest Child drove him and the cornet to school on the final day he said.
'I've been wondering.'
'I've been wondering for a while now.'
'Ye-e-es....?' (this might be one for your mummy)
'Is Hull a real place?'
My Other Middlest Child, a brainbox who knows a thing or two about the East Coast, admits that this question caught her on the hop and made her doubt herself. The thing is, she said, when someone thinks you are omnipotent you don't want to ruin your reputation with an ill-considered response. She knew she knew but caught herself wondering.
'Is it a real place?'
Well, Auntie Ali, Hull must be a real place, because I've seen it in the newspaper and it might be destined to become The Venice of the North.
ps did you know that he cornet was originally derived from the post horn ? Golly!
pps Proud Hullesians, we all do know that Hull is a real and very fine place, it's just that the strain of omnipotence gets to us, sometimes.
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