If you want a little more adventure in your life, invite me on your safari park trip. I have form for Making Things Happen. Part of this may centre around the fact that I obviously Smell Right to giraffes, who always form a disorderly queue to stick their fabulous necks into my window or sunroof. This is exceedingly cool. 


The first time I visited, 8 or 9 years or so ago, the Rhinos were fighting. The losing Rhino was being obliged to reverse at speed, because winning Rhino was locked horn to horn with it, and accelerating fast. Losing Rhino ran out of road and backed smack into my (company) car bonnet, denting it. It then rested its ample behind (I own an ample behind. I know one when I see it) on my bumper, and proceeded to have an enthusiastic wiping session, before being nudged insistently out of the way by the keeper’s jeep. Explaining the dent AND the Rhino turd smears the following Monday morning was not fun.

The first time I visited the place with John, both the wolves and the wild dogs converged on our car like iron filings to a magnet. We worked out that next door’s labrador’s urine scent markings were evidently Pretty Hot Stuff. The occupants of the other cars were driving past us, looking fairly miffed at their paucity of canine attention, whilst we looked like a 4×4 egg completely covered in waggy-tailed-and-hairy sperm. (Incidentally, did you see The Great Sperm Race last night? A 5 mile long x 2 mile wide vagina!) The Rhinos were fighting on this occasion, too, but we escaped with merely the equivalent of a body panel mild flesh wound.

There’s a big fuck-off notice as you drive into the reservations, warning you in no uncertain terms that spare wheels can get mauled, and to take ’em off before you go in, yadda yadda yadda. And to be honest, my spare was worn to the point of illegality with a slow puncture anyway, but it would, in a pinch, have got me home.

Well, it won’t now. A lioness strolled nonchalantly round the back of our car, and started gnawing on the spare tyre. I would have enjoyed the whole chewing experience enormously, as the car was rocking about excitingly (Hubby would say that this sort of event doesn’t happen nearly enough at his time of life), but I backed into a signpost last summer and although John hammered out my tailgate neatly, the closing catch is not quite up to original specifications. I didn’t entirely fancy a toothy extra passenger, so I gently moved off, leaving to plonk herself resignedly back on the grass,


and watch lunch


drive out of her reach.

I swear that every beastie in the place, from the pythons to the tigers, immediately clocked Harry as a yummy-looking hors d’oeuvre. I had more long, considering looks


 from narrowed eyes directed into the car than ever before. This one’s pal


focused so intently on our hyper and bouncing toddler before beginning to stalk us, that I was too uneasy to stop for a photo opportunity.

I was still a tad jumpy when we reached the elephant section, which was unfortunate, as the passenger window chose that moment to finally (the day had been approaching for many months) stick wide open. There are many reasons why buying a Land Rover is a bad idea. Thankfully we had already passed everything that could view our child as a prospective snack, and we headed away from the reserves and towards the theme park.

Incidentally, if you were also safari-ing that day and this is your BMW:


my husband has requested that I call you an inconsiderate twat.

 The fun park was a let-down, as Harry was too short for any of the rides. I tried to sneak him onto the carousel, but he was ignominiously turned away for not being 0.8 metres. The chap made us measure him and everything.


 I was a little bit sad about it.

But not nearly so sad as I have been about the virus that began to knock him flat Sunday afternoon. Sunday night was bad. Yesterday was bad. Last night was fucking torturous, and Emily seemed to be having broadly the same problem. Today has been the worst day of illness Harry has known since his first week of life, and I’m panicky and dreadfully upset about it. He has all the common or garden viral stuff – soaring temperature, lymph nodes like walnuts, sore throat, listless, excessive misery, etc etc etc, all of which I could cope with – but his mouth ulcers are back with a vengeance.

They look so, so bloody painful. He has a deep one right on the tip of his tongue that is half a cm across, and one on the side that is the size of a pound coin. They are raised, white, sloughing, and raw. I see another one is just beginning to erupt in the centre of his tongue. 

He paws at his mouth, shakes his head and whines like a distressed puppy; he has stopped even trying to swallow and sits on my lap, clinging tightly to me, whilst his mouth hangs open and pools of saliva soak us both to the skin within minutes. I have had him clamped tightly and sweatily around my neck during his every waking moment, and a fair proportion of his sleeping ones, for over 24 hours now. Whenever I go to the toilet he screams wildly, as I have to put him down twice in order to remove and replace my jeans. He has barely uttered a talking-type sound all day, probably because of his swollen tongue, cheeks, tonsils and lymph nodes.


I have bumped him to alternate ibuprofen and paracetamol every 3 hours, but it doesn’t seem to relieve his pain, only his fever, and I generally have to fight him in order to get the dose down him at all. He has also turned hysterical at the sight of Bonjela, although it’s the only thing likely to help his poor suffering tongue. We do have some lignocaine spray somewhere, but he refuses to open his mouth. He swallows water, then cries at the pain. He has grizzled and bellowed almost continually, in fact, for 2 days, and by this afternoon I was beginning to cry too, as I’ve not had much sleep to speak of and seeing him like this is beyond awful. I feel such desperation and I’m going frantic because I can’t ease his distress.

He ate a few bites of cooked-to-near-destruction soft pasta for tea tonight, and eventually went to sleep after 30 minutes of solid howling. That was an hour ago, and he’s just woken for the second time, screaming hysterically. John’s been up there 10 minutes already, but he’s still roaring horribly. I have to go. My poor boy.

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