Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Low Expectations

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.


Sara Padrusch said...

Your children are lovely and all the more so for their love of crap. My children are also amused by crap and I am so grateful to have children who are so easy to amuse.

I quite like the goat and after reading the article about the owls, even though I now know better, well, I want an owl. There, I said it. If it eats one of the cats than all the better.

Krazy Kitty said...

Sitting on the end of the pier in the rain with a pile of pebbles and a bag of chips sounds pretty idyllic to me right now, actually. Of course there's the fact that I'm ever so slightly overworked.

Em said...

Could your boys be more French looking? They're gorgeous.

And, yes, I would love to be sitting at the end of the pier too. A lot more appealing than writing boorish copy and trying not to fall asleep.

Lisa said...

Your boys are so handsome! The goat seems a bit pushy and as I sit here a steaming, melting, whinging mess, I envy the need for jackets.

Anonymous said...

You are spot on about goats - goats rule! I am sad to hear about the abandoned owls, but where the hell do the monkeys fit into this picture????

WV fuggyz - I'm about to go and tell several people that they can just fuggyz off...

Ann said...

I love this post. Thanks for making me laugh. It's my 40th birthday today.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean about goats. What's with those weird, weird eyes? And as for kids liking rubbish outings, the more tacky the better, I find. Last week my youngest, 5 year old boy, told me after I'd bought him a kinder egg then tken him to a drive through McDonalds, it was the best day of his life.

Alison Cross said...

Not been to the Isle of Wight since the summer punk rock descended upon us. By the looks of the dinosaurs, not much has changed.

You all seem to be having a good time - rubbish attractions or not.

When you go to the owl place, sneak me one out and post to Scotland :-)

Ali x

WV- ressesse - playtime for snakes at school

From Belgium said...

Goats are livesavers on a rainy day

glummymummy said...

Scones ... Scones ... Scones ...

Oh, brilliant! Drool on the keyboard.

Kippaxlady said...

Oh Waffle, I bloody knew you were a good sort, at last someone that adores the goat as much as I do.

Laurel said...

Abandoned owls, that's so sad! (Do you think any of them skateboard?) Maybe if you are kind the keepers will give you an Owl in a Box to take home and cherish.

Jeannie said...

Your boys are so cute and I say that as a mother of three boys (but mine are now 21, 23, and 26). So it looks like you had lots of fun--that is great. And the apple core would have made me laugh, too. Keep enjoying them. They won't be this age forever.

Beatrice said...

That pic of (y)our dog is so cute (!).
And great to hear you're enjoying yourselves.
See you soon!

Lisa-Marie said...

They are half English, how can they not love scones?!

Also, your children look very like you. I find most children like the things you expect them not to. It's like when they are little and they like the box more than the very expensive toy that is in it!

Lisa-Marie said...

They are half English, how can they not love scones?!

Also, your children look very like you. I find most children like the things you expect them not to. It's like when they are little and they like the box more than the very expensive toy that is in it!

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