Jul 5, 2014

Slimm Family Get-Together? Cue Barbie

Over the weeks leading up to the Australian Contingent's much-anticipated visit, there had apparently been behind-the-scenes machinations where our people had spoken to other people and their people had talked to our people and arrangements and compromises arrived at, certain assurances given, to enable a Slimm Summit to take place.

Though not a Summit to match the huge conclaves of yesteryear, convened when the youngest generation had not yet achieved full self-determination, I was expecting significant numbers.It was being sold as quite The Event.

Statistically and generationally speaking we can break it down in terms of the ratios of attendance to availability, and those can be modelled as inverse normal distribution to seniority.

In addition to the Slimms my dear brother James dragged his family along to be bullied and generally beaten up again, and young Elizabeth, Nicole's childhood friend, last seen March 2009 in the Epsom Snow. Strangely as I recall in Epsom they did not salt the side streets.

Anyway all proceeded very amiably. We decided reasonably early on that we wouldn't drive and so the option of becoming ridiculously drunk opened up for me. Instead I drank very responsibly, sampling Old Speckled Hen for the first time in many years.

The barbecues were arrayed behind the Caravan of Climate-Altering Immensity and that seemed to be where the senior men-folk seemed to congregate to guffaw at one another and breathe grape-laden Australianisms in our general direction. My general plan was to keep a low profile, try to prevent the offspring from suffering or inflicting serious damage, and to make sure that my bro and his retinue were attended to and succoured socially and spiritually, if you know what I mean.

The food was universally lauded by the meat-eaters. My veggie stuff was pretty good. Chick-peacular.

Anne does love her grandchildren whole-heartedly, and she had a plan, which was for all the grandchildren who were capable of speech to spend the night in the Amazing Caravan.

Well she didn't reckon with me.

Anyone who has known me sufficiently long, and sufficiently long can vary between a few weeks to, oh, a couple of years, knows that I'm a bit of a disaster in the playground as far as damaging other peoples' children goes.

Still, in this playground I did OK. Everything was made of wood and it was in the middle of a wood. As long as they didn't fall off the rope swings they'd be fine, and they didn't. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, they were laughing and everything!

Kate saw some poles and said that'd make a good photo. I just had my mobile phone but I could see her point. The poles were three feet high and geometrically arranged. If that isn't photo material I don't know what is.

In retrospect, and isn't retrospect lovely, our error was trusting an 18-month old baby to stand on a pole even if just for a few seconds.

They went down like dominoes, Lyra and Eloise and Maisie did. Maisie hurt her leg. She cried. Kate comforted her. She cried more.

It all sort of went downhill from there really in a copycat crescendo of crying and condescension, cousins crying left right and centre, for no very good reason, in fact self-defeatingly as poor Anne's dream date evaporated in tired little girls' wails and grown ups' inability to deal with it.

"I want to sleep with X"
"I want to be with Y"
"I want to stay here"
"I want to go with Nanny Z"

"If you don't stop crying, none of you will be staying"

Eloise stayed the night, they watched a video, had a nice time. She was the only civilised one and the groupthink almost got her at one point.

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