May 17, 2010

“Toronto?” queried Neighbour Who is Always Inexplicably Holding a Spanner, as he passed the time of day with The Mushroom. “It will be the worst thing you ever do, moving there.” He nodded knowingly.

“Really?” replied The Mushroom, “Really? REALLY?” She was being sarcastic, I think.

“Concrete jungle, down there.” continued Neighbour Who is Always Inexplicably Holding a Spanner. “And they want to be American. They’re not really Canadians, those folks in Toronto.”

The Mushroom nodded. “Right.” she said.

“And it’s fulla foreigners.”

“Ah,” she said.

What Neighbour Who is Always Inexplicably Holding a Spanner didn’t know, of course, is that all of these things are, to The Mushroom, pretty good, but that’s by the by. In a twist of gorgeous, Mushroom-esque irony, now that the decision has been made to leave, she is getting all wistful about the Prairies.  This is due, in no small part I would reckon, to the weather.

Saskatchewan has appeared to entirely bypass Spring and go straight to Summer. ‘Hoorah!’ thought everyone in the Basement Suite. Blazing sun; endless blue skies; birds a-tweeting; big, yappity, hybrid dogs a-yapping; stray cats a-urinating, and a rather speedy transformation from brown to green.

“This is excellent!’ exclaimed The Mushroom. She looked happy. It made a massive difference to her face, this looking happy lark. The Baby, who is permanently happy because she’s a baby and possibly because she gets everything she wants, looked even happier. My Dad looked suspicious.

Saskatchewan is a significantly less crap place to be when it’s no longer Winter. It’s pretty. There are flowers and that. Lots of birds who presumably heard about this winter business and buggered off for seven months are now perched, merrily, in trees. Little scurrying chipmunks scurry.

And, every now again, a group of Seagulls arrive, perch for a while, look confused, then fly away again.

Seagulls. SEAgulls. The clue’s in the name, boys. LOOK AT A MAP. There were two on our roof the other day.

Seagull 1: Alright, mate.[ Pecks casually at a feather.] Where you from?’

Seagull 2: ‘Hull. [Pause]  You?

Seagull 1: Cleethorpes. I’ve got a sister in Hull.

Seagull 2: Ooh, whereabouts?


Seagull 1: By the river.

Seagull 2 [looking embarrassed]: Yeah, yeah, of course.


Seagull 2: Where the fuck are we?*

Seagull 1: No idea.

*Seagulls swear. They hang around Hessle Foreshore and Hull city centre, stealing people’s chips and swearing. Fact.

But it’s Summer, and everyone here was a-smiling, apart from possible the lost Seagulls.  My Dad and The Mushroom are getting tans, The Baby is learning to apply her own sunblock, Fluffy Usurper has decided he likes climbing trees more than he likes having sex and I’m getting out and about. It’s all pretty blissful.

“She’s loving it here at the moment!” exclaimed The Mushroom to my Dad, “I think it’s really good for her to be able to explore nature! And…”

“The winter is seven months long…” began my Dad.

“…in a city, The Baby simply wouldn’t be able to run around hugging trees, would she, because…”

“…and I used to come home and you were rocking silently in a corner…”

“…you couldn’t let her out of your sight for a second, but in the fields here of course you…”

“…muttering single, unconnected words like sheep, glue, marzipan…”

‘…can, and she’s learning all about the trees and the flowers and today we saw a woodpecker…”

“…and I’ve resigned from my job now because you basically said if I didn’t…”

“…and some moose prints and we fed the geese by the creek…”

“…you would actually go insane.”

The Mushroom looked at my Dad. “Don’t worry. There are still no restaurants or theatres or bars.”

“There is a bar.”

“That bar scares me.”

“I’m just saying.”

 It got me thinking, though. Is there a BEST place to live? If one took away the fact that The Mushroom can’t drive and the seven month winter, is a city actually better?  Or does is simply have more stuff? I can’t really see the benefits myself; the cities I’ve lived in are just noisier than here, and I don’t get to go to the theatre much regardless of where I live.

 I wonder what The Mushroom feels she’s missing, from the city. I wonder if it’s important.


Decision Making

May 2, 2010

It is the end of April. It is nearly May. In normal places, this means Summer is nearly here. It cannot, then –  I will brave a wager –  snow again.

Summer means the end of the school year. It means the end of the lease on The Basement Suite. It means that my Dad and The Mushroom have to decide what they’re doing.

The estate agent rang The Mushroom today. The Mushroom always answers the phone and puts it immediately on speaker-phone, to prevent the Baby grabbing the mouthpiece and, inexplicably, shouting, ‘Granddad? GRANDDAD?’  The Baby has three granddads. I have no idea which one she thinks she is speaking to. None of them are deaf, although one of them does have quite big ears and threatened to shoot me once, but that’s another story. He’s known as The Squirrel Killer. What kind of man, I ask you, calmly keeps a shotgun by the living room window with the specific intent of shooting every single squirrel he sees eating the bird food? I’ll tell you who. Granddad.  The Baby likes him, anyway, or whichever one she thinks she is shouting to on the phone. She certainly doesn’t know about his squirrel shooting fetish, anyway, or I doubt she’d be so keen to show him her toy animals whenever she sees him on Skype.

‘Hello!’ he’ll say, peering into the webcam in the way only people who didn’t grow up with computers do.

‘Granddad!’ The Baby will shout.  ‘Sheep!’ and off she goes to bring him a plastic sheep. I don’t know why, either.

Anyhoo, the estate agent rang.

“Hi! It’s Taylor!” said a very chipper estate agent. “I’m calling to see if you are wanting to renew your lease on your property?”

(An inordinate amount of people in Saskatchewan are called’ Taylor’. It’s a nice name. It’s also a job, though. Like ‘Haberdasher’. Or ‘Ironmonger’. These last two are not, to my knowledge, as popular as names.)

An advert came on the radio. ‘Gotta love the weekend!’ an overly enthusiastic girl shouted, ‘Gotta LOVE the Lloyd Mall! Find EVERYTHING you need under ONE ROOF!’

I remember The Mushroom’s one attempt to find clothes at this so called Lloyd Mall. She came back with one jumper. It was mauve. So, apparently, was every item of clothing for sale in the Lloyd Mall. The advert, thus, should have stated that, indeed,  you can find everything you need under one roof, if what you need is mauve clothes and some Wellington boots and maybe a stetson.

The Mushroom took a deep breath.

“No, thankyou.” she said. And that was that.

And then it began to snow again.

“So, what have my girls been up to today?” asked my Dad on his return from work.

The Mushroom looked at him, glanced out of the head-sized window, and looked at my Dad again.

“Weather not great, eh?”  he said, sitting down.

“The estate agent rang and asked if we wanted to renew the lease.” she said.

My Dad picked up The Baby and nuzzled her head. He sighed.

“I’m guessing you said no.”

“You are right.”

“Would you consider moving into town?” he asked, not looking at her.

The Mushroom made an involuntary squeaking sound.

” It’s just – I love this  job, sweetheart.” he said, ” I love it. And this part of the world is just so beautiful.  I love living in the country, I love the wildlife, the scenery – and I really really love this job.”

The Mushroom walked over to them and stroked The Baby’s head.

“You love me, though.” she said quietly. ” You love me more.”

My Dad looked at her.

“Yes, yes I do.”

“Then we’re not moving into town, my love. We’re moving to Toronto.”

My Dad nodded.