The Games We Play: Angry Men Edition
I spent a bit of time on that flight in the galley, bobbing around while getting Garnet off to sleep, and so I was privy to the pursed red lips of the flight attendants as they took turns peering down the aisle at the man to whom they had served five small bottles of red wine, and who was now acting like he might have already had a head start with a small bathtub of gin (it was 10.30 in the morning). He was shouting and growling aggressively at people, refusing to sit in his seat and generally being a no-good-nik, to the point that there was flight-attendant-muttering about landing in Adelaide to remove him from the flight. Eventually they decided to press on to Perth, so when we landed we all had to stay in our seats for forty minutes while they drummed up some coppers, who boarded the plane and took him off to the clink. (Actually, they just took him to the departure lounge and gave him a talking to, before releasing him to come down to claim his bag, which was travelling around the carousel like a kid whose parents have forgotten to collect him from school.)
But he made a bit of an impression on May Blossom, and we passed a happy half hour the next day in a park taking turns to be the Naughty Grown-Up, as she calls him, and the Policemens. The Naughty Grown-Up yells and staggers about until the Policemens marches up, seizes the Naughty Grown-Up and frogmarches them away. Then you swap roles. Repeat until one of you gets so bored you pretend the baby needs a feed just so you can stop.
The game is reminiscent of one my grandfather used to play with my little brother, called The Farmer and the Fireman. ‘Hey farmer, get those cows off the road, I have to get this fire truck through,’ Granddad would call, and Pete would scamper about for ages herding invisible cows off the road. Pete did not, as you might have imagined, go on to become a farmer. He became a professional herder of imaginary cows, so to speak: an actor.
Another game in high rotation around here is one we call call ‘Oi, Don, stop dancing in the rain!’ It is based on this sketch by Harry Enfield, in which he plays the character Angry Frank, who shouts ‘Oi, no!’ at people. (Please be assured May Blossom has not watched this sketch. She thinks the TV only plays Play School, Peppa Pig and Singin In The Rain. Her knowledge of Youtube goes no further than sneezing pandas and a cat riding a vacuum cleaner.) Again, this game is fairly straightforward. It involves shouting, which two and a half year olds like a lot, and its appeal lies in applying the formula to pretty much any situation. You think of someone doing something, and yell at them not to do it. The example in the game’s title, obviously, comes from Singin’ In The Rain, a film that is showing no signs of lessening its grip on my daughter’s imagination. We can reduce May Blossom to fits of giggles with this game. These days, when she laughs, Garnet laughs, and so we spend more time than most pretending to be angry men in order to see our four-month-old chuckle. There aren’t a lot of things getting ticked off the To-Do list around here.
Garnet is the only one in the house who can’t even pretend to be angry. He is seriously the most sweet-natured person I’ve met. We’ll probably have to invent games like the Kind Gentleman and the Handsome White Horse when he’s older. All he wants to do, in order of preference, is watch his sister do absolutely anything, breastfeed (preferably at night so he doesn’t miss any of May Blossom’s antics), smile at his father and me, and give people delighted open-mouthed kisses. I can’t see a future for him in being removed from planes.