‘A two-minute talk on any subject you like’ the letter from school said. Sweet Pea had been set her first big homework task: to prepare a talk to give in front of the whole class about anything she liked. The chosen topic? “My Funny Daddy”.
Now, I know this is a proud, shameless step-mum talking but I reckon her talk must have utterly trumped the others’. Who else could claim to have a daddy who split his trousers in front of the Queen? That alone could have done it, but with the claim that he also kept a pet baboon as a kid, that must have blown away the fierce seven-year-old competition good and proper. Brilliant!
He’d first told me about this just before dropping off to sleep a few days into our honeymoon. No amount of shaking would get any further information out of him until the morning. I just lay there giggling through the night.
‘We had monkeys as well,’ he continued the next morning, ‘but they were naughty, they’d pinch food and cause havoc. A lot got killed by the dogs or had heart attacks. They didn’t last long.’ The guard baboon meanwhile, would be let out at night to guard the premises, in the morning he was lured into his cage with bananas by a nervous domestic or human day guard. ‘He was a mean baboon, far from cute.’
The girls, who like me, have spent most or all of their life in the UK, find this fascinating. And so did Sweet Pea’s class. For Hubby, it was just a passing point of mild interest and ever-so normal.
But despite the menagerie of exotic pets, the monkeys, the baboon, the parrots, the dogs – the one that was sold without Hubby and his brothers knowing and the loyal Lassie dog who ran after their car all the way to the airport as the family left China after their dad’s time as Congolese Ambassador there… Pets in our Glasgow house are another matter.
The girls are desperate for a dog. So am I. I’ve had a West Highland white terrier on the top of my Christmas list since the age of seven. Still no luck. But I can’t help but think there is still hope. The girls would prefer a golden retriever or a sheep dog collie. When we went to my boss’s house the other day his very patient Collie ended up wrapped in Sweet Pea’s pink cardigan. We count dogs on the way to school in between times tables and spelling practice. And we especially like it when they’re carrying funny things, like massive sticks, bottles or shoes.
But a dog in our household? Well I think we’ll have to wait until we’re a bit more settled, have a bigger garden, have time to take it on walks blah blah blah. A baboon, on the other hand, could be a little more likely at this rate…