Lynne Mortimer: Another G&T? Why not?

Lynne Mortimer

Lynne Mortimer - Credit: Archant

I’m sitting here with a bit belt of gin accompanied by a soupçon of slimline tonic... I earned it, writes columnist Lynne Mortimer.

I have just spent the day (well, about four or five hours) looking after both my beautiful grandsons. George, who is a sweet child except when he’s not, is a 33-month old bundle of energy, Forget the Large Hadron Collider, this small full-on collider could well be the whirling mass of atoms that sparked the birth of the universe. I’m more of a black hole. Tiny Wil is a smiley baby who, at four months old, mostly eats, sleeps and chortles. With mummy at work teaching and daddy varnishing the set of Pride and Prejudice nanma was spending a day with the boys.

It was hot and sunny so we headed for the playground, buying lunch on the way from a general store on the parade. George chose a bag of Monster Munch... I persuaded him to have beef rather than pickled onion. No one wants to kiss a pickled onion-flavoured grandson. He chose a ham and tomato sandwich, a banana, a clementine and a flapjack. He was guided a little in his selection as his leftovers were to be my lunch.

George loves to greet people and no one passes him without being hailed with a cheery: “Hello.” Sadly, few of them respond.

Wil was asleep in his pram.


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We walked the short distance to the play area - George knew the way. We sat on a bench to have lunch while various mums and dads arrived and left with their pre-schoolers. I had half a sandwich. George eats more than I remember.

His head was soon turned by a little girl who parked her gaily-pink toy pram next to the swings. I could tell it was the pram George was interested in because he made a beeline for it. “Hello,” he said to the small girl.

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Her mum, sticking to gender stereotypes, took a yellow ball from the pram and gave it to George to play with.

“Say thank you, George.”

“Thank oo,” he said politely, unconvinced he was grateful. We played catch and returned the ball. George eyed the pram wistfully.

Wil slept on.

“Would you like to go on a swing, George?”

“No,” he shook his head and moved over to the see-saw.

“Would you like to go on the see-saw?” I cleared my throat in preparation for a quick chorus of Margery Daw.

“No.” He shook his head and went over to the climbing frame where he ascended the slide and tried to meet expectations by climbing up the scramble net.

We ambled home and George pointed out the numbers six and four on the fire hydrant; always useful to know.

Wil slept on so we went out into the back garden where, within seconds, George had acquired a ring of dirt around his mouth. I’ve no idea where it came from.

We fetched his little umbrella and I trained the hosepipe spray over him and rendered a lusty Singin’ in the Rain.

Wil slept on and was just stirring when daddy came home. Having promised George a ride in the car, I took him, by himself, to Audley End House to feed the ducks. He likes ducks even though he finds them a little unnerving.

He paid his £1 for a bag of duck food. “Thank oo.” And we approached two mallards waddling towards us. “Hello,” he said and took a handful of the pellets and dropped them on the ground. Within seconds another three dozen hungry ducks were upon us, treading on our toes. George promptly emptied the rest of the pellets on the ground and beat retreat.

We toured the walled kitchen gardens and my grandson admired the salad vegetables and learned the word “meadow”. After saying hello to chickens, sparrows and bees, we headed back across the lawns. George spied a big, sprawling chestnut tree with its age-old branches lying close to the ground. A number of children were clambering on it.

“People! I love people,” exclaimed my grandson and broke into a run to join them.

After a bit of tree-hugging we walked back to the car, passing a chap who was answering a call on his mobile phone. “Hello,” he said.

George looked up at him. “Hello,” he said, beaming.

See more from Lynne Mortimer here

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