It’s Owlywood, here at Shrewsday Mansions.
The children have been holed up in their offices for some considerable time.
A film has gone into production. The script has been written and an exacting director – Felix- has been appointed. Yesterday’s dog walk was primarily a location scouting session, although I’m not sure the dog appreciated the gravity of the situation.
Maddie’s toy owls have been signed up as the cast. She’s doing all the different voices. The atmosphere is electric.
And it has all been made possible because Felix found his birthday present.
Allow me to transport you back to our trip to Euro Disney last year: a euphoric time for Phil and the kids. The only thing which got me through the experience was a heightened sense of irony.
The trip celebrated Felix’s birthday; and Phil, an extravagant father at times, had purchased the very latest in moving picture technology: a Flip camera.
For the uninitiated – and I was such- this is a top-of-the-range film camera with all the convenience of a swiss army knife. I can only surmise that its inventor must have been a man, some cross between a scout master and Cecil B. De Mille. Tiny, convenient, it slips in a pocket with ease.
It also slips out of a pocket with ease.
My son is many things. He has navigated me round the Oxford one way system using just an iPhone map. He solves verbal and non-verbal reasoning problems with alacrity. His mind is razor-sharp.
But he does not always hold on to things very well.
His socks drive me nuts. I bought a seven-pair-pack just two weeks ago and can I find them now? He takes them off for comfort, when he is playing, and they migrate with ease: under sofas, behind cupboards, under toy boxes. I wish they would mate and produce more grey socks.I’d never have to buy another pair.
When we went to Disney, he filmed hours of footage. Hours of It’s A Small World, complete with the high-frequency sound track. Endless frames of Disney characters saying howdy and doody in broken French accents. All on this tiny little contraption which would have amazed Queen Victoria or King George. A space age moving picture capsule.
And then he came home, and the Amazing Moving Image Contraption vanished.
We are not unaccustomed to things disappearing from Felix’s grasp, but this loss smarted more than most. The cost, the criminal waste and the loss of all that precious footage of It’s A Small World cut us to the quick. We searched and stomped and burrowed and cleared; but to no avail. We even kept an eye out for it when we redecorated Felix’s bedroom and moved all the toys out: but no dice. It was gone, for good. It was as if Fate had flushed it unceremoniously down the great water closet of life.
We sighed and resigned ourselves to the loss. My iPhone was used for all filming, and would get perennially clogged up with footage of small children and owls and elephants in forests. Sorry, it would signal pathetically; I just can’t fit another image on. If it were a person it would sniff disconsolately.
This unsatisfactory turn of events endured until a few days ago.
My son shot downstairs, glowing with a rare concentration of triumph. “Mum!” he bawled happily. “I’ve found my flip camera!”
But where? In an instant my unconscious had scanned the house for any place I hadn’t looked before. We had cleared the wardrobes, the laundry pile, the land beneath the sofas, the kitchen cupboards….
“That’s wonderful! Where,” I enquired incredulously, “could you have found it?
“In Dad’s safe!”
The safe is a greedy gobbler. A small drab treasure box with buttons on the outside, Phil squirrels away stuff he thinks might be really very important indeed.
And then, like a squirrel, he forgets what he put in there in the first place.
Still, he has his uses.
Felix just walked into the bedroom. The children were up and in their offices bright and early this morning, planning the shoot. I am off to London to have lunch with my father, but Phil is being pressed into service. As what, I am not quite sure: maybe a gaffer, or a best boy, or perhaps location assistant, dealing with the problems each place presents: keeping away passers-by, clearing the scene, tidying up after everyone.
“Are you all set to start scene one?” I enquired of Felix, with Julie -Andrews enthusiasm.
“Yes…” said Felix with admirable focus.But he continued to dawdle.
“What are you waiting for?” I enquired.
“We’re waiting for Dad to come out of the toilet,” he said.
You just can’t get the staff these days.