In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when the Infinite Improbability Drive is at the end of its cycle, Douglas Adams writes, “We have reached normality. Anything you cannot cope with is therefore your own problem.” If I’m not very much mistaken, Mr Adams had just come back from university and was experiencing life where the likelihood of drama, mishap and general mayhem had become as probable as Jenni Murray ringing you up and telling you she wanted you as her next guest on Woman’s Hour.
Not that I ever dream about such an event occurring. Not ever.
A whale doesn’t seem so improbable anymore
Being back home has done nothing but highlight the sheer madness of uni, both good and bad. Or it could just be that having eight or more hours sleep compared to four makes day-to-day life seem a bit more sane.
My reunion with my sister and dad off the train was so moving it deserved French subtitles. Although the moment was ruined slightly when a drunken Cheltenham race spectator lurched from the train, breathing Stella in my ear and asking where he could find the closest toilet.
So my sister and I continued our embrace in the car park standing next to a meter, while Maria cried in my ear and Dad sat grumpy and cold in the car. It was nice.
My Nan decided to take my sister, my Mum and I out for lunch after I’d been settled in a few days.
“Don’t you look well!” She beamed, enveloping me in a wave of Eternity perfume. “I can see you’ve been looking after yourself!” She glanced over at the dresser. “Is that a picture of an owl in a hat? Isn’t that funny!”
“Wait!” Mum said, just as we were about to leave. “I forgot to do my exercises!”
My mum is recovering from a leg injury and has been set a number of highly amusing exercises to do daily by her physio. At least, they’re amusing for the bystanders. On the first night back, I walked into the living room to find her calmly planking on the carpet.
“I’m just stretching!” She called cheerfully, if a little muffled. “I’ll be with you in a moment!”
Maria and Dad settled themselves on the sofa as though it was a common occurrence to find a mother lying like an elongated cat on the floor. Sometimes, I give her head a little pat for motivation.
“I’m not sure you should be doing that love,” Nan said worriedly as Mum began her whirl of Pilates motions on the floor. “You’re wincing a lot.”
“It’s fine, my physio says it’s just tough luck if it hurts a bit,” Mum said, and she cleared away the newspapers on the dining room table so she could kneel on it.
After a delicious meal, we were back in the car when Nan said, “Right, where would you like to go now?”
Maria started laughing. “You always say this and we always know that you’re going to take us to the garden centre!”
“Don’t you like the garden centre?” Nan asked, looking crestfallen.
“Of course we do, it’s like our ritual,” I said.
“I don’t know why you’re laughing so much Maria,” Mum said reprovingly. “We know you only like it because of the café.”
Afternoons well spent
I have this tiny needling fear that my sister and I are the only teenagers in existence who take pleasure in wandering around a giant greenhouse, complete with The Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop and handmade cake corner. Although I suppose it is good practise for the day I start taking an interest in summer flowering bulbs.
On arrival, Maria and I immediately made a beeline for the pet corner. They had six of the sweetest black dwarf baby rabbits in glass pens.
“I think I melted a little bit.” Maria said.
“They’re so tiny, I’m pretty sure you can just keep them in your bag,” I mused.
“Or a tin with holes in.”
“Or your pocket.”
“With ear holes.”
When Mum arrived to have a look I said flippantly, “It would be nice to get a rabbit in my new house next year.”
Mum said, “I have never heard a worse idea in my life. If you buy a rabbit, don’t come home.”
I had a bizarre moment of déjà vu for a memory that wasn’t even mine. When my Mum came home from university for the first time, she was having dinner with her family when she mentioned she was thinking of having her nose pierced the next semester.
Without looking up from his chicken pie, my Grandad said, “If you do, don’t bother coming home.” And he added more gravy to his potatoes.
I had the feeling my Mum meant this just as vehemently as her Dad did.
Being home for Easter has emphasised the drastic difference of university versus home life, where the cons of pocket rabbits are discussed rather than the dubious ethicality of purchasing alcohol at 11 am on a Thursday. Although sometimes I have to admit to preferring an evening dancing in the kitchen to Mel Tormé with Maria to a night spent being shoved in a club and having occasional, unprovoked arguments with taxi drivers.
Famous last words.
Pocket rabbits – a pet for any sized handbag
(Disclaimer: The author does in no way promote the keeping of tiny mammals in luggage. It’s all shits and giggles until someone forgets to make ear holes.)
Images courtesy of Google