AKA - That’s Just Not Cricket
I’m sitting on the sofa smelling uncannily like Debenhams. This is because earlier this morning, in a moment of utter insanity, Zsuzsa had bowed to Mila’s demands in a perfume shop.
Despite the distraction of smelling like a Disney princess, I’m determined to watch a cricket match in peace. Mila however appears from her room, brandishing her scented weapon, and has other ideas.
“What’s that daddy?” says Mila, her face popping up and obscuring my view of the TV.
“That’s cricket sweetheart.” I reply, gently swatting her to one side.
She jumps on to the sofa and plonks herself down beside me.
“Cricket?” she says.
“Yes. Cricket.” I reply.
“Cricket like Mila’s friend?”
A few weeks back Mila approached me with something in her hand, proclaiming it to be her friend. It was a cricket without its back legs. I’d told her it was a cricket and that she needed to put it down somewhere quiet so that its back legs could grow back. I also told her not to pull the hind legs off crickets again in the future. “They don’t like that sort of thing.” I’d said.
“Well, no.” I say. “That was a cricket, but a different cricket. That was an insect, this is a sport.”
“Ah.” Says Mila.
She watches the TV transfixed for a moment. I can sense another question coming.
“No darling. Not football.”
“I think it’s football.”
“It’s not football.”
A moment of peace as an English man swings a bit of wood and hits a small bit of leather over a small wall. Then, like a meerkat, Mila’s face suddenly reappears in between my face and the TV.
“What’s that daddy?”
“That’s a six Mila.” I say, moving my head to an impossible angle in an attempt to see the TV.
“Oh! Six! Hooray!”
We high five. Then…
“What is cricket?”
I contemplate for a moment, how best to answer this question. How do I explain the rules of an ancient game, that has so far befuddled her mother, to a three-year-old?
“Okay. So there are two men in the middle. One has a stick, called a bat. There are eleven other men around the two men and they all want to hit the sticks behind him, called a wicket, with a ball.”
“Because they want to get him out.”
“Because they just do. Anyway, so the man with the bat tries to hit the ball.
“That’s not a bat Daddy!” Mila laughs. “Funny Daddy!”
“It is. It’s a cricket bat.”
Mila looks at me as though I’m stupid.
“Noooooo. That’s not a bat.”
Mila looks back at the TV. The game is in the balance.
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Running!”
“Yes. They’re trying to get runs?”
“No darling. Not like Lola. She had ‘the runs’. That was different.”
A laugh from the terrace distracts me. I look and see Zsuzsa and her parents all staring back and laughing at me. I fix Zsuzsa with a quizzical gaze.
“Dave Grohl honey!” shouts Zsuzsa from the terrace.
“What?” I reply.
“I’m just telling my parents how you think you’d be really great mates with Dave Grohl if you ever got the chance to meet.”
This is true. I think we’d hit it off, me and Dave.
“Who are the other two famous people who you think you’d be amazing mates with?” asks Zsuzsa, trying to stifle a laugh.
“Paul Rudd and Will Smith.” I instantly reply, because we would, obviously.
Zsuzsa repeats this to her parents. They all laugh. I bristle and am about to interject when a fine jet of pungent perfume hits my cheek, stopping me in my tracks.
“I make Daddy smell beautiful, okay?” says Mila.
I wipe my face and make a mental note to hide Mila’s perfume far, far away.
“Can you change Lola’s nappy. It’s a kaki (pooh).” says Zsuzsa, suddenly appearing at the patio doors.
“Sure. Just give me a couple of minutes.” I sigh, internally cursing the fact that I still haven’t found any time to invent and patent my baby cleaning machine.
“You’ll be ready in two minutes?”
“Honey, I was born ready in two minutes.”
Two minutes later, with Lola in front of me ready for her change, I watch England celebrate victory. Smiling, I turn to my side and see Mila pointing her perfume at me, a hopeful look in her eyes.
“I make Daddy smell beautiful?” asks Mila.
I open Lola’s nappy and the scent of fresh baby shit smacks me hard in the nostrils. It’s a real vintage. A heady bouquet.
“Go on then Mila. Go on. Make Daddy smell beautiful. Hit me.”