[A mother (for example, the mother of two small boys when her husband is away) scales vast mountains and deep canyons of emotion, solves problems of fiendish complexity, and draws on profound wells of courage, endurance and baby-wipes. But somehow, when she tries to tell people the details of her intense, absorbing experiences, they come out oddly boring. So I am going to recount the events of Wednesday in a language that does them justice: the language of Adventure. There will be occasional translations and annotations in Boring for the literal-minded.]
The knights, Sir Hugh and Sir Frank, had feasted richly [had breakfast] in Castle Home and the minstrels’ song [the morning dose of Bob the Builder] was drawing to a close.
“It is time for a quest,” said the wizard Gandot [Dot, of course]. “We must journey to Castle Library and seek the books of wisdom, which in Sir Hugh’s case tend to concern diggers. Let us mount the steed Buggy.”
So they mounted the steed Buggy and journeyed to Castle Library. Sir Frank fell asleep, for this was not his quest.
At Castle Library Sir Hugh quickly saw a Book of Wisdom concerning diggers. But, alas! it was already in the possession of another knight [the other little boy was a bit older and, as is the way with children who’ve outgrown that kind of behaviour, seemed wholly nonplussed by Hugh’s mini-tantrum]. Sir Hugh, overcome by rage, couched his lance and prepared to do battle. Gandot had to restrain him lest he forfeit his honour as a knight and fail in the quest. Fortunately she spotted another Book of Wisdom also concerning diggers and Sir Hugh’s terrible rage subsided. But then, most treacherously, Sir Hugh was attacked from in front by a beanbag and a wooden box and was grievously wounded. [He tripped over, slammed into the edge of the box, and got a cut and a humdinger of a black eye]. Gandot had to apply wizard salves [cuddles – couldn’t put on a plaster because of where the cut was]. But Sir Hugh had triumphed in his quest. He left Castle Library with four Books of Wisdom, including one about trains that he grabbed at the last minute and that’s definitely too old for him.
“It is now time for another quest,” said Gandot. “We must seek out the House of Succour, north of the Sea of Liffey and beside the Field of the Burning Fowl [we’d been invited to visit the lady who’s doing my teaching while I’m on leave; she happens to be the wife of my head of department, and they live near Phoenix Park on the northside]. It is a long and arduous journey and we may get lost. This is my quest,” she added magnanimously, for Sir Hugh and Sir Frank were both overcome by weariness. Gandot strapped the sleeping knights to the great steed Scenic and set out. Fortune smiled on their journey and they did not get lost, negotiating the high passes of the North Circular Road with surprising swiftness. At the House of Succour Sir Frank awoke and undertook a quest for boob. The Lady of Succour feasted Gandot and Sir Hugh upon fish pie and chelsea buns, and then she led them all to the Field of the Burning Fowl where Sir Hugh jousted nobly [there’s a great playground in Phoenix Park] and Gandot and the Lady conversed with courtesy and delight. Sir Frank repeated his quest for boob. As Gandot and the knights made ready to depart the Lady loaded them with fair gifts [lentil soup, bread, jam and a couple more chelsea buns, all homemade]. Then Gandot turned the great steed Scenic towards Castle Home, little knowing that this was to be the hardest part of the quest [though I should have seen it coming as it was rush hour].
This time fortune did not smile on the journey. Dark had fallen; lashed by winter’s sleet and battered in the howling winds, Gandot and her knights fought their way across the northern wastes [it was raining]. The Glue Trolls [traffic jams] were out, sucking and dragging at their steed’s feet, and when Gandot tried to leave the North Circular Road for a different path the Misdirection Wraiths sent her straight back onto it. They were heading for the toll bridge! And she could not find her gold! For a moment Gandot panicked, thinking she had left her gold at the House of Succour, but then she remembered it was in the pocket of her coat. [So I stopped and got it out of the car boot.] So slow was the steed’s movement that Gandot was able to consult her map and find a road that crossed the Sea of Liffey by the Custom House, but that too was infested by Glue Trolls and she resigned herself to the toll. At least it meant avoiding the dreadful troll-haunts of Ballsbridge. But the toll-route too was full of trolls, and so was Strand Road in Sandymount, and the great steed itself seemed almost to be turning to stone under their influence. Sir Hugh’s courage was failing; he began to weep, and then he succumbed to his exhaustion [it was actually rather a good thing both boys were now asleep]. Gandot struggled on alone but she too was faltering, and wishing she had not left all the food in the saddle-bags. But inch by inch she battled against the trolls, and inch by inch they yielded, and finally, battered, starved and aching she reached Castle Home once more.
[It took over two hours to drive from Phoenix Park to Dalkey. Two hours! My clutch knee still hurts just thinking about it.]
Even then their travails were not over. Sir Hugh awoke under the influence of a pernicious enchantment that caused him to wail, grizzle and insist on sitting on Gandot’s knee, just as Sir Frank also awoke and began an extremely urgent quest for boob; weakened as she was by hunger, Gandot could scarcely summon her wizard powers. With her final ounce of strength she provided a cereal bar for Sir Hugh and some chopped pear which was also meant for Hugh but which she ended up eating herself. The elder knight was persuaded to settle for snuggling against Gandot’s side while the younger completed his quest. And, slowly, they all regained their strength.
[And after a bit I finally got to eat some of that bread and it was absolutely yummy.]