Peter and the Boy

“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were-Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.”

Dear V,

The above is where my story began.  Miss Potter created me, taking great care to give me a lovely blue coat, the longest,

proudest ears, and the fluffiest white tail. The rest of my story belongs to you.  I have been with you since that very first day when you came screaming into the world.  Cosied in beside you I instantly soothed you as your eyes adjusted to the reality of this big bad world.  I have been by your side ever since.  Offering cuddles without question. My soft ears to your trembling lip in moments of uncertainty.  A coat lapel that smells like home when we are away on one of our adventures I have happily been your anchor.  One of your first words was “Abbit, abbit”, and I have shared all of your firsts with you since. The first but not the last time you had tonsillitis. The first time we had a bowl of Mamma’s lentil soup.  The first time we slept in our big boy bed.  I even came with you to the hospital to meet your little sister when you were just a baby yourself.

Tomorrow you will be six.  A big schoolboy, the last few months have seen big changes for you and I.  Starting school, I am now left at home.  No more travelling in the nursery bag and waiting patiently in the cloakroom for the occasional hug.  I understand that school is something that you have to do on your own.  I am so proud of you for taking those first steps, independently, without me.  Yet I fret and worry all day about you.  I lie on the sofa and wait just where you left me, but my mind is with you.  Are you eating your lunch, are you cold?  Are you being a good boy?  I am your first point of call when you burst through the door and I bristle with pride when you reach for me.  I know that this is just the beginning of your solo outings.  You will need and look for me less.

As we write, Mamma too has grown a long pair of proud ears, pulled on a lovely blue coat, and grew a fluffy white tail.  For she too knows the changes that are afoot.  As she runs alongside the school bus each morning in her pyjamas, she is so happy of the black eyes she receives.  Affirmation for the rest of the day that you still need her. Your little hand pressed against the glass until she is out of sight.  She is trying all the time to let you stand on your own two feet.  Although through habit, she can sometimes forget the big boy you are becoming.  When she tries to zip your jacket up each morning, you are quick to remind her “I can do it myself”.  Our eyes meet as she swallows her heart back down and out of sight from you.  She lives for those moments when you look for her and she recognises the growing length of time in between them.

After all, her story truly belongs to you too.  Bringing you into this world and raising you has been her beginning. You are her author.  Your baby sister penning her sequel.  Even when you grow to six foot tall, you will always be our baby boy.  By that time mamma and I will be growing old together. Tattered but happy, we will not notice that our blue coat has gotten shabbier or that our tails are hanging on by a thread, for we will have known love.  And that in the end, is all we really wish for you.

So Happy Birthday our darling boy.  We do not want you to go out into Mr MacGregor’s garden, but we know that you must.

Be safe.  Always.

Love Peter (And your mama) xxxxx

Postcards and Tricorders

Having got a new phone my mother, let us call her The Bionic Woman; is temporarily unreachable. As I write, she is in rehearsals for “how to answer my fecking phone”. The slide to answer function see her adopt some movement improvisation skills, taking not only her finger but also her whole self across the performance area. On successful attempts when she answers, breathless and shouts, “hello” she is less than amused when I reply; “Slide to the left. Slide to the right.”

I mock, but really, I am the same, a technophobe, my mother’s daughter.

I have a deep obsession with post cards particularly WW1 silk postcards. Embroidered by French and Belgian woman, and purchased by soldiers on the Western Front, they fascinate me. A tangible record of love they illustrate the strength of the human spirit in horrendous times. Sadly, postcards are sliding towards the obsolete, taking with them the beautiful art of letter writing and Christmas cards. Instantaneous and constant communication through social media and bloody apps has seen our pencils put down, permanently.

I am demented daily with all this technology. I have friends who have a PHONE watch. I stare at them, yearning for the comfort of my Nana’s big rotary dial phone. I am a proud Sci –Fi fan. Commander Datta and his tricorder stole my heart a long time ago. Yet to me such things should reside in that land; fiction.  Phone watches that bing to let you know the phone in your bag has important news about Agnes MaGlumfer and her new hairdo. No thanks. I will wait, with bated breath, until I bump into Agnes (in Aldi) and say, “here, have you had your hair done Agnes?” Do not even get me started on the Kindle. The Bionic Woman is not a fan either. Although can you imagine the motion sickness she would incur from all that attempted swiping to the next page? I am a constant source of humour to my friends as I try to keep up with messenger, what’s app, the hell that is predictive text and the ambiguity of those wee emoji’s.

Yet all these things have infiltrated my home and daily life. My phone bleeps first thing every morning to tell me I am in Glasgow and it is expected to be frozen the day. Solemnly, I put down my compass and pack away the sun cream. The Greek is a fan of the oven timer. Not to cook, but as his own interpretation of time management. The “chicky timer” is set approximately 50 times a day. Bing! Time to get dressed for school, Bing! Time for the puppy’s ear drops, Bing! Bath time. By the end of the day, I am a nervous wreck standing up and down at every bing like one of Pavlov’s well-behaved dogs. “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!!” I scream into thin air.

Of course, like most I have tried my hand at apps. My marriage nearly failed before it began, with the Greek and his calorie-counting app. “That’s you had 1200 the day, whilst I’ve had 1199”. Smug shite. The app that lets you know your period is due? Bing! “You are about to menstruate”. Well knock me down with a feather. Astonished I look up from the raw steak I have been gnawing on for the last four days, whilst continuing to lift my boobs and fan under them with the Daily Record. An app to count your steps? I reached the maximum for the day before leaving the house. A joint download for the Greek and me? The running app. This saw me run around the block, once, with my determined face on. Having no arse I spent the whole time clutching my “jogging pants” whilst trying to skip Ed Sheering singing into my ears about bloody crumbling pastry. The Greek summed it up the following day, limping into the driveway, (having made his debut on the pavement) and suffering with “an old basketball injury flare up”; “F**ck that”, he acutely observed. My personal favourite? Bing “Today is a safe day to have intercourse”. Oh really? I cast a glance over to my beloved. Up since 4.30 AM, he has clearly made time in his day to be dragged through a hedge backwards. He is now, semi-conscious on the sofa attacking a bag of salted pistachios, presumably having being told it is the last bag in circulation. To commit to the task I would need a risk assessment and a hardhat helmet simply to make it to the other sofa, and safe from all the falling pistachio shells.
This flirtation with apps did not last long as all by ourselves we were able to conclude; we are shattered, in Glasgow, freezing, overweight, unfit, and as fertile as a pair of amorous bunnies.

Part of the allure of my Greek was the enforced separation of National Service. The postcard enthusiast in me took to this role with great ease. Forlorn and love sick I spent a year going for walks, sighing and writing letters back and forth to El Greco. They now languish collectively in a box. Yet they are there. Just like those love letters from 1914 -18. Existing forever. Here I am. Here I was. I loved her. I did this. I lived. I will survive. Forever. Instant messaging, fad apps, snap chat, evaporating as quickly as they have been conceived, mere fleeting glibs in the technological age.

So maybe, once in a while, we should all put down those tricorders and pick up our pencils.

Happy Sunday xxxxxxxxxxxxxx