Long Winter Nights

January 26, 2010

“Right, baby, let’s go for a bath!” announces The Mushroom.

“Baaa!” shouts The Baby in response.

“She said ‘bath’!” exclaims The Mushroom.

My Dad looks up from his game of ‘Big Tanks In Some Battle Loosely Connected To The Second World War’. “No, my sunbeam, she said, ‘Baaa’. She’s impersonating a sheep. She did not say ‘bath’.”

The Mushroom looked as if she had just been slapped. My Dad prepared himself for getting actually slapped. “She says ‘bath’ better than you do.”

Aah, yes. What a childish retort, you may be thinking. Of course my Dad, a 39 year old man, can say ‘Bath’ better than his one year old daughter. Hmm. In theory, absolutely. But here, The Mushroom was mentioning the elephant in the room. The fact – and this can only be said as a whisper – that she is not really a Northerner. And my Dad very, very, very much is.

The Mushroom is, in the world of accents, a big fat fake. She is, in fact, Canadian. She is, specifically, Québécois. She lived for a bit in London, in the Midlands, in Liverpool, in Ireland and her parents moved to Hull when she was 14, so she can, just, maybe, claim to be from Hull. Her accent is completely screwed. Most of the time, she speaks like she is a Southerner. In truth, she should sound like Celine Dion, via East Yorkshire. When she talks to Northern Friends, her accent morphs; she has a friend from Cleethorpes who, within about three minutes, seems to turn The Mushroom into some sort of Pigeon Fancier with a whippet. ‘Oh, hello, how lovely to speak to you’, the conversation will begin, and within seconds it is, ‘Aye, aye, ay oop luv, lemme pud kettle on’ etc. Fraud.

Anyhoo, The Mushroom says ‘barth’. My Dad says ‘Baff’. The Baby says ‘Baa’. So they’re all wrong. End of.

The advent of full conversation from The Baby has made me feel betrayed. I thought I had a little partner there. The Baby and me, in our speechless world, against Fluffy Usurper The Anti-Christ. When we want something, she cries, I miaow. I thought that maybe, over time, we’d develop our own rudimentary sign language; two tail twitches, for example, would mean ‘Please pick up Fluffy Usurper and throw him out of the window’. But this is not to be. She is joining the ranks of the other humans, and I am left to stalk within the confines of my Basement Suite, Fluffy Usurper hanging round my neck like some sort of furry shrug, attached to my skin by his claws. The little shit.

I don’t blame The Baby, though. Winter is going on forever, and talking must while away the time. The Mushroom has taken to baking inedible scones, which I’m sure would be edible if she just accepted that some food products do require a little bit of salt and sugar, neither of which are allowed. Fluffy Usurper likes them, however, which is handy for my Dad who daren’t say anything to The Mushroom and sneaks little handfuls of them to the little furry freak when she isn’t looking.

“So, what have you been up to?” asks The Mushroom’s mother via Skype. The Mushroom stares out of the window. Or tries to. She is, actually, too short to stare out of the window, the window being at ceiling height, so, if I were to be literal, she stares in the direction of the window.

“I have made scones.” she eventually replies.

“Were they nice?” asks The Mushroom’s mother.

“No.”

Things are looking up for The Mushroom, though, because my lovely friend Brian is now driving her the eight thousand miles to the nearest town to go to a playgroup, a thing she actively avoided whilst in Hull and now seeks out like an Exocet missile. Apparently, there are people there. The Mushroom likes this.

My Dad appears to be whiling away the long winter nights by singing to The Baby. How lovely, you may be thinking. How very ‘new man’. What is he singing? Lullabies? Nursery rhymes? Old songs from children’s programmes of yore?

“One, two, three -”

The Mushroom stops in her inedible scone endeavour with a look of abject horror on her face.

I recognised the tune too. My Dad is singing Britney. Good ol’ Britney. Even to my castrated cat ears, I can tell it’s not a song Mary Poppins would sing.

The Baby looked up at him expectantly. The Mushroom stood with a rolling pin in her hand. Fluffy Usurper sat in the corner quietly reading the Book of Revelations and getting ideas. My Dad looked momentarily panicked. Here he was, in a basement suite in the middle of Saskatchewan, with a baby, a wife who can’t cook but keeps trying to who was currently wielding a rolling pin, the Anti-Christ and me, and he was about to sing ‘3’ by Britney Spears.

“-I’m a little bit of cheese, and little bits of cheese like to bend at the knees and one, two, three, I’ve been drinking anti-freeze…”

Phewsers. He changed the lyrics just in time. Everyone resumed their activities; The Mushroom pounded her dough, The Baby danced, Fluffy Usurper turned a page. I’d be interested in finding out more about that cheese, though.

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