Saturday, 23 December 2006


The Presents are next. So I go shopping. I have two hours in the charity shops, so need the op shops close together. I'm heading to the part of town which is so run down, it's dropped off the map. It's the sort of place where the public toilets aren't safe. But it has five charity shops all in a row. When I get there I notice Oxfam's closed down. They're probably a bit up-market for here.

I have triplets to make magic for, and it's not easy. They're not Christian, so God's out of the picture. They don't believe in Santa either, so we can forget all that stuff about sherry and mince pies. They've worked out that the Mythicals bring them presents. The Mythicals are fairies, unicorns, and firebirds, and they lived before the dinosaurs, apparently. The kids haven't yet connected the sight of mother staggering through the house holding bags from the charity shops with the appearance of a few second-hand presents two days later, each badly wrapped in Christmas paper they've probably seen before.

My plan this year is to aim for special interests. They're all aged 6. And they're all home educated. Shark's crazy about life underwater and wants to be a marine biologist in her day job and a chef at night. Tiger looks to me like a good engineer, or designer. The first thing she did this morning was to make a bi-plane out of cardboard. She intends to experiment with Pegasus in it later. Squirrel is into fairies big time, and dresses up as one whenever she can. She says she's made a Christmas fairy wish, but she won't tell me what it is. I've tried five times now, so it looks like she's going to be disappointed.

In the first shop I hit the jackpot for Shark. A beanie fish called Lips. Tiger would be happy with a book on how to make action toys for 35p, but I put it back, because I can detect tears by instruction 12. It would be the origami dolphin all over again, and the memory's still fresh. Squirrel likes birds, so I buy her a cuddly parrot with a strange quiff on its head, like a cockatoo. She'll examine that quiff later and say that it doesn't look like any bird she knows and we can get out all the encyclopeadias to try and identify it, which we won't be able to do. In Shop 2, my enthusiasm suddenly deserts me. I leave with a blue unicorn for Tiger. In Shop 3 I find a video of James and the Giant Peach and in Shop 4 a book about animals around the world. So that's probably it, along with a box of craft items tucked away downstairs. For any spare friends and relatives knocking about we'll make bookmarks using leaves, paints, and a laminator machine. This is going well. We have two out of the three things to do, done. Tomorrow, The Food. Life's never been this straightforward.

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