It was the best of days, it was the worst of days? It was a day of two halves?
Whatever cliché I use, the day started particularly badly and we could only be thankful that it didn’t end that way.
Al woke to hear Squiffany calling for him. He usually gets her up, as Dilly has to wake up a few times in the night to feed the baby and he lets her have a lie-in until he goes to work, if possible. He went into Squiffany’s bedroom, to see her looking shocked. “Daddy,” she said, “So sorry. Sick. Bed. Mess. So sorry, mess.”
He took her through to the bathroom, undressed and bathed her, dressed her and found her a toy while he stripped the bed and put the sheets and her pyjamas into the washing machine. Then he went out to feed Goosey.
Goosey usually hears the back door being opened and waits, honking, at the gate. But there was no sight or sound of him. After a search, Al discovered the reason. A fox, or probably two had visited during the night and had killed him as he slept – there had been no sound and there was no sign of a struggle, just our poor goose, half-eaten in the grass.
Goosey had belonged to my mother. Some 16 years ago, she acquired two eggs from a poultry-keeping friend and one of our bantams sat – perched precariously – on them until one hatched; the other never did. Rather than keeping him alone, my mother further acquired a cockerel and two ducks to share his run and there they all lived amicably. In the end, his companions died of old age and Al inherited Goosey on his grandmother’s death.
So, Al went back in the house, told Dilly what had happened, and then came to tell his father before going off to work. Later on, I went in to commiserate with Dilly. Squiffany was fine, no after-effects from the sickness, fortunately, but Dilly was trebly disconsolate. Upset about Goosey of course, but she had also just finished mopping up the kitchen. “The washing machine did the sheets all right,” she said, “but when I put in the next load, it leapt out and pulled the hose out and the plug from the socket and now it doesn’t work at all. I think it’s had it, it’s 11 years old and not worth repairing.”
At least, I mentioned helpfully, it had washed that first stinky load before its demise, showing itself to have been, to the last, a loyal and helpful appliance. We also agreed that, if bad luck comes in threes, at least the worst had already happened.