‘These last few days have been a bit overcast and gloomy, haven’t they?’
‘Yes, but still, it’s nearly Christmas, so it’s hard not to feel a little excited.’
‘I suppose so. There aren’t many places with decorations up yet though.’
‘No, but the holly berries are looking so bright – almost as if someone has been round polishing them and the ivy has its gorgeous black berries hanging all over the place. Did you see the frost the other morning? It’d sprinkled silver sparkle everywhere.’
‘No. I missed that. I’m not much of an early riser – if I can help it.’
‘You should get to bed earlier, Early to bed. Early to rise. Makes you healthy, wealthy and wise, you know.’
‘So I’ve heard. I did try it once or twice but I didn’t notice that I had any extra money, so I haven’t bothered with it again.’
‘Oh Peter, ha, ha. You need to do more than just get up early, idiot!’
‘I knew there must be a catch, somewhere. Early mornings are better spent sleeping, at least you’re doing something useful with them.’
‘If you were up earlier you would be able to do something useful.’
‘Yea, right. . . . Erm, er, Alexia? There’s a bit of a party in the glade tonight. Most of the crowd will be there. Would you like to come?’
‘Oh, Peter. That’s so nice of you to ask me, but I have to stay home tonight – I really must wash my hair.’
Well, Autumn is definitely here. We come back damp from our daily dawdle – not because the rain is falling, but more because the rain hasn’t got round to falling. It just stands around, chatting, and not really paying attention – a common local practice – and we bump into it by accident.
The sun is currently putting in long hours down in the southern hemisphere. He pops up and peeps over the windowsill now and again, just to make sure we’re all right, but we really don’t see much of him. On heavily overcast days, it is quite dark at three o’clock and we drive everywhere with our lights on all the time – just to make sure that we can be seen in the gloom.
The natural world has rolled up the awnings, pulled down the shutters and is sitting, with the heating turned up, in the comfy armchair looking at next years holiday brochures. All except the ivy. Because it is a law unto itself, ivy has chosen this time of year to display ripe berries. The only reason that we can discern for this behaviour, is that it gives pigeons the opportunity to play Spiderman. Pigeons have an exaggerated opinion of their own athletic build. In practice, they do not have the slim, lightweight proportions of joggers in yoghurt adverts. They are dumpy and plump. While this doesn’t stop them eating the berries while swinging on the end of a long, delicate ivy tendril – they really do look ridiculous.
‘Did you hear? It just bounced off!’
‘Yes, I didn’t expect much else, to be honest. It was bound to be harder than they expected.’
‘Well, at least it managed to find the place.’
‘True. True. We mustn’t belittle the achievement. It certainly took long enough, though.’
‘That just doesn’t grab me you know, wandering around, searching for the right place. Talk about looking for a needle in a haystack. How would you be sure you had actually arrived, it’s not as if you could expect a welcoming committee waiting to roll out the red carpet for you, now is it?’
‘Oh, it’s all automated now. Not like in my day. Why, most cats these days wouldn’t know what to do with a fiddle if they tripped over one.’
‘And they know it too! I’m tired of trying to talk to them about how we’re loosing all the old skills. Now they just cross the road to avoid talking to me.’
‘I’ve not seen a dish or a spoon lately, either.’
‘Well, I do have a dish.’
‘Yes, but all the technology is in the spoon, isn’t it? So a dish on it’s own isn’t going to get you far.’
‘They’re such a nuisance too. You have to watch them all the time – to make sure they don’t run off, just when they’re needed.’
‘True. Ah, well. Nice to talk to you. Thanks for dropping by.’
‘Bye, see you again.’
Cows, naturally, keep up with current events in space.
I was out shopping with my Gran the other day. We went and bought some sweets for me – and a hat, that you can wear to keep your ears warm, for Gran. Everything was going fine. It wasn’t too boring – although I had nearly finished the sweets. I had been told that I had to be careful when I was shopping with Gran as sometimes strange things happened, so I was wearing my lucky badge. I was just looking for a bin to put the empty sweet bag in, when we stopped in front of a shop that was full of clocks.
‘My Goodness,’ Gran said, ‘Look at that. It’s nearly eleven o’clock!’
Well I didn’t think much of it then – now, of course, I know better. A bit farther up the road I could see a rubbish bin, so I said to Gran, ‘I’m just going to go and put my empty sweet packet in that bin.’ You never know, she might have said ‘Oh, have you finished those sweets already? Let’s see if we can find a shop to buy some more’, but she didn’t, she just said ‘Stay on the pavement then, won’t you? I’ll wait here.’
I nodded and dodged in and out of the people as I ran up the road to where the rubbish bin was. I popped my empty sweet packet through the hole for rubbish and turned to go back.
It must have reached eleven o’clock just at that moment. As I stood there, looking back at Gran, something weird started to happen. Then I realised that we were in for it, the thing I had been warned about was going to happen – and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
There was a strange fizzing and popping and crackling sound and Gran seemed to be getting bigger and bigger – as if she was a balloon being blown up. She grew and expanded and grew some more and soon she was huge and green. Then she let out a ferocious roar – shouting ‘I’m Dinothirst!’ at the top of her voice, shattering all the windows.
People ran for cover as Gran rampaged down the street, knocking over lamp posts and squashing cars flat. Things were looking bad. I realised that I was going to need help – and quickly, so I pressed my lucky badge.
Superman, Spiderman and Batman appeared in the street next to me. Superman grabbed me, and we all dived for cover in a shop doorway.
‘What’s happened?’ yelled Spiderman over the noise and the shouting.
‘It’s Gran,’ I yelled back, ‘It’s eleven o’clock!’
‘Oh. Crumbs!’ Superman yelled. ‘Do your best, Batman – Spiderman you come with me, we’ll be back as soon as we can.’
They zoomed off, faster than the fastest light there is, over to Italy. There, Spiderman threw his web around an Italian coffee shop and Superman flew back with it and put it down in the street.
Luckily, Batman knew how to work the coffee machine and he rushed in and started making a cappuccino. As soon as the coffee smell reached the Dinothirst it started to shrink and before you could say ‘something-really-difficult-to-say’, Gran came in the door. She sat down, and Batman gave her the cappuccino.
Spiderman found some of those little biscuits under the counter and we had one each. Batman made Superman, Spiderman and me a milkshake and then Gran and I went and did some more shopping.
I have no idea what the connection is between the story and the picture – have you?