Well, you will be pleased to hear that despite the lack of functioning fridge, none of us died of botulism over the weekend. I suspect, in the case of the adults this was down to the large amounts of alcohol sterilising, or possibly drowning any germs.
As for the children, they’re 3/4 feral anyway, and as my granny used to say, ‘you need to eat a peck of muck before you die.’ They were happy to comply.
She had other, cheerier sayings, but this one seems most appropriate in the current circumstances.
One of her other favourite sayings, ‘Shit luck’s good luck’, was beautifully demonstrated a few weekends ago when I went to London with my friend, Andrea. We were lunching outside due to the clement weather, and sat next to a woman who got crapped on by pigeons, twice in the space of one meal. It was lucky for us that she was the victim. We felt treated to a prandial, pigeon cabaret. We tried to explain it was also lucky for her. She wasn’t buying it. She was American. I wonder if the adage just doesn’t translate across the miles.
Today, I suspect there will be both muck, and possibly shit, as we are going into the wilderness once more to do a spot of den building with friends of ours. It is certain that at least one, if not all of my children will fall in the stream. They are magnetically attracted to water, the dirtier the better. It will be all the irony if they contract cholera, when I have spent so much time fretting about botulism.
There will be bites, possibly one child biting the other, but also insects. Tilly has, in recent weeks, turned into a magnet for bitey things. She spends a lot of time pouring tea tree oil on welts the size of small towns and scritching. This never used to happen to her. I wonder if seventeen year olds are more juicy than their teenage peers. Apart from the bites and the smell of tea tree, she is looking quite delicious.
There will be stings. Dock leaves will feature largely. Oscar, who is the least observant child I have ever had the ill fortune to be associated with, will be despatched to search for them. He will, with tragic inevitability, ignore the vast clumps of dock leaves (possibly bearing a sign saying: ‘Get your dock leaves here) and return with a clump of deadly nightshade or poison ivy.
I am also taking bets as to which one of them will discover something entirely unsuitable and horribly upsetting. I am thinking something dead, or something someone unsavoury has left in the bushes, being too ashamed to bring whatever it was they were furtling with home with them.
Whenever we spend time crashing through the undergrowth I think of Victoria Wood talking about going to guide camp and being sent to find the ‘most interesting thing in the woods’, and feeling disgruntled that a man called Billy with no buttons on his raincoat was not the winner.
That is the sort of thing I am prone to finding. I shall never discover the lost treasure of the Aztecs unless it is the ancient equivalent of fourteen tonnes of rain soaked back copies of The Best of High Priest’s Wives, etched in stone and buried in llama dung.
As a child I was of a particularly morbid bent, and was convinced I was going to find a dead body in a ditch one day. I did, as an also rather horribly unhygienic child, spend quite a lot of time foraging in ditches, so it wasn’t quite as improbable as it might appear. I never did, but I did once bring home half a sheep’s leg which my mother, most unfairly, would not let me keep.
I have sympathy with her now, obviously, after having shouted at Tilly that we would not be bringing a Thames soaked tramp’s shoe home with us after beach combing, no matter how ‘interesting’ it was.
One thing we are definitely going to find on our trip, is the pub, which is the main reason why I am being so sanguine about the nature bit before it. All of nature is much more tolerable with the promise of chips at the end of it.