Monday, 9 July 2007

Seven women in a house

Dig has pushed off to Heathrow on the train to jump on his flight to Brazil. He says that's not a holiday. I notice he's packed his lumberjack shirts though, which doesn't look like business to me.

Dig leaves behind his three daughters Tiger, Shark and Squirrel, his sulky-Grit-wife, his sister who we call Aunty Dee, Ermintrude the au pair come to teach us French, and The Hat, who's coming to visit for tea. That makes seven females, and no grumpy male stomping about the house grumbling because he cannot find the computer cable he always takes and now look, why isn't it here, on the pile of old Malaysian newspapers scattered over the hall floor where he left it two weeks ago?

When The Hat arrives, the partying soon starts. Squirrel gets on her Cloud costume, Shark dresses up like a blue glitterball, and Tiger goes for a medieval princess look. I wear stained charity shop jeans that are torn thanks to a collision with the oven door, so I am wearing sad poverty look.

And we have party food. In honour of The Hat's arrival, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger have co-opted Aunty Dee and Ermintrude into helping them cook this afternoon. This means making French apple tart, cake, biscuit and blancmange. I've tried turning the blancmange experience into a home education 'History of Blancmange' lesson thanks to Wikipedia and the blow-up globe, but no-one is much interested because Tiger has made pink sugar biscuits and Ermintrude has brought little sugar flowers to decorate them.

We have presents too, courtesy of The Hat. She has brought some little Russian dolls which she brought back from her last visit to Iran, where she has family. Each little doll wears a painted burqa so they are mostly black, except for a pair of painted gloved hands and a pair of tiny painted eyes that peer through a narrow slit.

These dolls puzzle me hugely. Are they intended for little girls? Or are they to make sure that little boys, who might try and curiously lift the burqas, may discover only another one underneath? Or perhaps they are just for tourists. Or perhaps men might glimpse something not allowed in the wooden dolly world, so they must be covered up. Anyway, you can't see anything that might be thought of as immodest or provocative, unless the painted eyes count.

And so the party goes on. The evening is lots of fun with a lot of jolly talk and laughter. We all eat tarte aux pommes, cake, biscuits and blancmange, and listen to Bollywood music from India thanks to the Internet radio. Tiger has made too many biscuits so The Hat promises to take some home and we put the rest in a tin.

Then it's 10pm so it must be time to get Shark and Tiger and Squirrel up to bed. Aunty Dee waves story books about and The Hat, who probably has another couple of parties to get to yet, is gamely clambering into Shark's top bunk, shouting 'I've been in one of these before!' However, she seems to forget that this was probably in 1962 and then needs to help to get down again.

After a very noisy hour, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are safely in bed, still chattering; Aunty Dee sits down with a fairy story; Ermintrude makes off to call Francois; The Hat kisses everyone and slips off to her next engagement, and mummy Grit slumps into a bedroom chair with the remainder of a bottle of Italian wine. And the little Iranian ladies are safely put away in their presentation box for the night. Tomorrow, I resolve, we will talk about the rights and responsibilities of women. Probably when we've shared out Tiger's biscuits for breakfast.

No comments: