The holidays are nearly over and I haven't crashed the car or been eaten by an oversized crustacean or barricaded myself in a cupboard rocking and keening like a Romanian orphan. All these things may still come, but for now, we are exploring the wet weather options of the Isle of Wight.
Look, here we are sheltering from the rain in a strange, ancient wasteland of fibreglass cowboys and ravenous slot machines. Lashes is dicing unwisely with some kind of 4p offal tube, Fingers is more prudently sticking to crisps. I had a KitKat. I am 53% cheap chocolate, 39% tea and 8% galloping neurosis.
But it's ok. I'm a Butlins vet now. It takes more than a sadistically calibrated, pound a go grabber claw to push me over the edge. A broken forklift driving ride that swallows 6 quid and just sits there, mocking you with faint engine revving noises? A giant pirate themed machine that squirts glacial water into your ears? Whatever, bring it on. I've been to Plopsaland several times, and Plopsaland has a soundtrack of Flemish rock muzak. This was surprisingly entertaining in comparison, even when we had to go round the wonky house four times during a particularly persistent period of drizzle.
And better still, rainy, crap amusement parks teach me the essential truth about my children: they may only speak French, may have perfected an impeccably indifferent gallic shrug and ask me questions like "c'est quoi, un 'scone'?", but dammit, at heart they are English. Low expectations of fun run through their veins like weak tea.
They are astonishingly good at being entertained with rubbish, rubbish stuff. Broken fibreglass dinosaur carcass? Joyous!
(yes, it has an apple core in its mouth, this in and of itself created whole minutes of hilarity)
Cruelly lengthy forced march along a shingle beach on a fruitless fossil hunt? An ill-lit Nissen hut filled with dusty bones? Again, again!
Give them a querulous goat to poke and they are serenely content. So am I, actually, so possibly that's genetics rather than national identity. Goats are brilliant, aren't they? Essential malevolence barely concealed behind their expressionless slotty eyes, heads accessorised with sharpened offensive weapons. I love goats. They'll have your eye out, eat your mobile phone, maim your first born and wander away mildly bored if you let them.
The youngest, for whom indifference and requests to leave any form of entertainment (including cinema, circus, boat trips, laser gun fights) prematurely come as naturally as breathing, declared a sodden visit to Carisbrooke Castle to watch a handful of bearded enthusiasts in felt tunics bash each other vigorously with blunt broadswords and to queue in the rain to watch a donkey plod round an outsized hamster wheel "plutôt chouette" (pretty great).
On the strength of this, I think the programme for the last two days of our holiday should be something like:
Wednesday: Search the back garden for caterpillars. Visit Owl and Monkey rescue (I was going to say something waspish about this, since it looks like a crap pebbledashed hut peopled by a handful of grumpy Barn Owls on the leaflet, but then I googled it and it's for owls abandoned by Harry Potter fans! Now I am caught up in sadness of it all and want to visit it FOR REAL. Possibly move in there).
Thursday: Sit on the end of the pier in the rain with a pile of pebbles and a bag of chips.
I bet they'd love it. I'll teach them to love a scone yet.