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Here be Monsters

“The thing about San Francisco is that everyone just looks wonderful. It’s full of people just jogging, cycling and smiling,” said Andrew with a pretty big smile on his face.

“Perfect teeth?” I ventured

“Yes, everyone had sculpted figures and perfect teeth. And the weather was great: beautiful blue skies and warm golden sunshine.”

I nodded in happy remembrance of warm, golden sunshine as the cold, damp grey November afternoon enveloped us. We were foolishly sitting outside having lunch at Kenwood on Hampstead Heath with a couple of friends of ours. They had just returned from a long weekend in San Francisco. From the sound of it they had a fantastic time. How could you not?

After lunch, we went for a little walk around the Kenwood estate. As we walked the damp air turned into that particularly lovely November phenomenon: mizzle. It wasn’t quite raining but there was definitely more than just a mist in the air. The sun gave up what pathetic attempts it had been making to put in an appearance and decided to call in sick for the day behind a thick black cloud.

As we walked through the trees little Meri ran up to me and gripped my hand tight.

“Is this a deep, dark wood?” she asked echoing the lines in one of her favourite books, the Gruffalo.

“It is a wood. It is quite dark,” I answered.

“Will the Gruffalo come? I don’t like the Gruffalo,” said little Meri gripping my hand a little tighter.

“Oh, darling,” I gave her a reassuring squeeze, “you don’t have to worry about monsters when you’re with daddy. If any monsters come daddy will ‘shoo’ them away.”

Reassured, she ran off happily to play hide and seek with her brother.

Clare, my wife came up to me and gave me a hug as we walked along. “Do you remember when we used to go on holiday every November?”

“Yes,” I answered wistfully, “Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Nepal…”

“And then every February, we’d get another short break in. Getting away when the weather was like this” Clare put her hands out, indicating the dank November blanket covering us.

“”Morocco, Cuba, Italy…” I listed.

“Why did we have kids?” Clare asked.

I watched Arun and Meri running around like banshees, roaring with delight and terrorising each other and our happily child-free friends.

“It’s all very well us protecting them from monsters”, I said, “who’s going to protect us from them?”


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