The research centre of nursery rhymes

mice

“Thanks for coming down to our facility, Mrs Dee Point,” the elderly gentleman began, as he gestured her into the workroom.  “I’m Professor Noel Ivan Deer. We would get you some water, but we sent our researchers Jack and Jill up the hill to get some earlier and… well, you wouldn’t think it the hardest thing in the world but poor Jack’s now got a fractured skull.”

“My goodness!” Mrs Point remarked, evidently alarmed by how frantically she was scribbling this down in her notes. “So he’s gone to hospital?”

“With those waiting times in A&E?!” exclaimed Professor Deer. “No, we’ve sent him upstairs with vinegar and brown paper.”

“But…” Mrs Point was thrown for a moment. “Surely that will never work?”

“Well, you’d think so, but that is what we do! Jack’s misfortune has blossomed into a beautiful opportunity for us! Our facility is dedicated to solving the mysteries of nursery rhymes. Restoring the eyesight of the three blind mice was just the beginning! We’re asking the important questions like: why do the bells of St Clements owe five farthings to the bells of St Martins? Why does Aiken Drum live in the moon? Why does the little boy who lives down the lane need a bag of wool from Baa Baa Black Sheep? Sounds to me like that poor chap is being worked than rightfully so for a lad of his years!”

“And what have you found overall?”

“Well Mrs Point, there is an awful lot of jumping in the world of nursery rhymes. Jack jumps over the candlestick, the cow jumps over the moon…”

“And have you found a reason for this, Professor Deer?”

“Not yet, but surely there must be one.”

“So have you achieved anything of value?”

“Well, we’ve found Bo Peep’s sheep, we’ve helped the King’s Men put Humpty Dumpty back together again, and we’ve got our fingers crossed for Jack, otherwise poor Jill’s going to be devastated.”

Suddenly the door opened, and in came a second elderly gentleman. “Ah Doctor Foster! How was Gloucester?”

“Terrible weather, you should see the puddles! I’m never going there again,” grumbled the doctor. “But have you heard the news? London Bridge is falling down!”

“Falling down!” exclaimed Mrs Point.

“Falling down! London bridge is falling down, my fair lady,” said the Doctor.

Sensing something was not quite right, Mrs Point pondered “hang on, is it really falling down, or did you set that up just so the nursery rhyme would work?”

“Are you suggesting all of this is just an elaborate set up for us to make bad jokes using nursery rhymes?!” blustered Professor Deer. “That’s ridiculous! What’s for lunch, Doctor?” he suddenly asked as casually as he could.

“Well, I did catch a fish alive, but then I threw it back again.”

“Why did you let it go?”

“Because it bit…”

“Oh for goodness sake!” shouted Mrs Point. “You’re grown men. Not every nursery rhyme, or any song for that matter, has a literal, deeper philosophical meaning.”

“Heavens, you’re right,” said Professor Deer. “Marry me my dear, we’d be perfect together!”

“Well, as creepy as that is, I have to decline; I’m waiting on my love forevermore bonny Bobby Shafto who’s gone to sea.”

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Reacting to the news…

newspaper

Seeing his wife Monica fighting back the tears, Eric grabbed her by the ponytails and held her head gently. He’d been dying to get home ever since he’d heard the news. “Can you believe it Monica?” he whispered to her.

“I can’t,” Monica sniffed, dabbing at her eyes. “Ever since they made the announcement, the world just doesn’t seem real anymore.”

“How did you hear about it?” Eric asked. He couldn’t quite believe it himself. No one seemed happy by the news; no one had ever truly wanted such a thing to happen.

“In the canteen at work,” Monica replied. “I don’t know why it affected me so much, but I just had to come home.”

“I don’t blame you,” Eric mused. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest that this truly feels like the end of the world.” He held his face in his hands for a minute, before rubbing his eyes as he stared at his TV. There was nothing on, just a blank screen. “How do you think people will react?”

“There’ll be revolts up and down the country,” Monica replied without hesitation. “No shadow of a doubt. People won’t stand for it. No one ever thought it actually would happen in the first place. To be honest, I think it would be a good idea for us to stop doing anything until we can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Eric was on his feet now, pacing the room as if trying to diffuse some great bundle of energy inside him. “Perhaps…” he pondered, as though what he was trying to say was bold and daring, and he was hesitant to speak it. “Perhaps it might be a good thing. Change can be good for the world.”

“Not like this,” said Monica flatly. “This feels like the wrong kind of change to me. I mean, think what this could inspire within people. They see this happening, they suddenly think that their radical notions aren’t quite so radical anymore. Where do we go from there?”

“I don’t know what we’ll tell the kids,” sighed Eric. “Do well at school, by the book that binds us all… and for what reward? When something like this can happen?”

Monica gripped him by the hands and stared deep into her eyes. “Don’t worry my love,” he reassured her. “We’ll still teach them what is right. This won’t change them one bit.”

They both sat down and stared straight ahead, still taking it all in. “I still can’t believe it though,” Eric wandered aloud.

“Yeah. Whoever thought they’d reduce the size of Toblerone? What kind of world do we live in where such a thing is possible?”

“Whatever happens, we’ll always have the Quality Street. They can’t take that away from us.”

Hoping for a change of tone, Eric reached for the remote. On flicked the latest news.

“Holy shit,” he gasped.

“I can’t believe it,” Monica’s hands were covering her eyes.

“The John Lewis Christmas advert,” they said together.

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An Unexpected Visitor, or “There’s a fox in our bathroom!”

Fox In The Bathroom

“Hannah? Are you awake?”

“For God’s sake Max, it’s two in the morning. Tomorrow, I’ve got to fire someone so I can hire someone else who I will probably end up firing further down the line. It’s only four hours until I have to face the music, so whatever it is, I guarantee I won’t be interested at the moment!”

“Hannah, there’s a fox in our bathroom.”

“Max, I’m really not in the mood for this- did you say there’s a fox in our bathroom?”

“Yeah, like a real wild fox. I could hear something scampering around and when I peaked around the door I saw two startled eyes staring back at me.”

“You sure it wasn’t June and Peter’s cat? The one that got into number 42’s compost heap?”

“Hannah, believe me, I know it’s a fox. Bright orange, busy tail and all.”

“And why are you telling me this Max?”

“Well, funnily enough I don’t really know what to do with it!”

“Since when have I been a fox expert Max? I’ve got enough responsibilities around here as it is!”

“I just thought you might have some ideas… and the thing is… I kind of need to go.”

“Then give him five minutes, knock again and see how long he’s going to be.”

“Hannah, I’m serious…”

“Well honestly Max, what do you expect me to do?”

Middle class suburbia. Sunny south. Gets the Telegraph delivered (except on Sundays). Jobs going well, thinking of starting a family, all the details ironed out. Everything flows like clockwork. Then there’s a fox in the bathroom. This isn’t just an unusual work-up call; this is a test.

“How on earth did the fox get in in the first place?”

“How should I know that?”

“You didn’t have the decency to ask? I’m pretty sure that’s breaking and entering, I don’t care if he has four feet.”

“Look Hannah, I know this might be funny to you, but I just want to sort it out!”

“Oh yeah, because being woken up in the middle of the night to sort out a fox with malicious intentions is a barrel of laughs! Well, what have you done so far?”

“Nothing really, just… gave it a quick Google… I put something about it on Twitter, but no one’s got back to me.”

“At half two in the morning?! I wonder why?!”

Raised voice, flared nostrils, stress levels rising. You wonder if these two are meant to last. Because if they can’t sort out a fox in their bathroom, then what does that say about longevity?

“Look Max, the last thing I want to do at this hour is chase a fox round the house as we try to usher it out into the garden. It’s probably more frightened of us than we are of it. Look, leave it for now, and we’ll call the RSPCA first thing in the morning and get them to sort it out.”

“Why the RSPCA? We’re not asking them to adopt a fox!”

“Do you have any better ideas?”

“Well I’m certainly not letting my privates dangle out in front of a fox if that’s what you’re thinking. That’s a gamble in No Man’s Land that is. I’m not making the charge.”

“Why can’t you just go in the garden? We could do with a bit of fertiliser, just make sure it’s over by the compost heap, or by where the compost heap would be if we had time to make a compost heap.”

“Hannah, are you really asking me to urinate over the flower bed? To defecate over the dandelions? We’re not savages, for heaven’s sake! What would the neighbours say?”

“Oh yes Max, the neighbours! The ones we see so frequently, like the time we popped round for afternoon tea and inane chit chat about how the kids are doing, how good the new kitchen looks, and- oh wow, is that a new lawn mower? What was that, two years ago now? And besides, even if you do happen to talk to the neighbours, are you seriously telling me that you would drop it in the middle of the conversation? I mean don’t be so-“

“Shush… Harriet… I can hear it moving.”

“Well, I hope it remembers to flush. Look, if it’s stuck in there now I highly doubt it will be able to get itself out. Barricade the door if you have to, but I’m going back to sleep.”

An hour passes. A whole blissful uninterrupted hour. Dreams of exceeding targets, satisfied clients, that golden ticket to promotion. Then…

“Max? Where on earth have you been?”

“Round to the neighbours.”

“At three in the morning?!”

“Well, I needed to go didn’t I?”

“I thought I said to go out in the garden?”

“Hannah, I know there’s a fox in our toilet but that doesn’t mean we have to stop being decent! June and Paul were perfectly understanding once I explained the situation. Anyway, you were the one bemoaning the fact that we never see our neighbours…”

“Yeah, but I didn’t mean going over for a chat at this time of night! You know how they love a bit of gossip, everyone on the road will know before long.”

“Ah well, seeing as they even leant me a spade to defend myself against the fox I think that’s a fair compromise.”

“I never thought I would see the day my fiancée would stand over me in his boxers, with a spade at his side, ready to defend us against a blinking fox. Just… try and get some rest, okay?”

Sunrise, birds chirping, morning. Strong cup of coffee, definitely not decaf. Just another day in the office for you madam? Home time, feet up… fox in the bathroom.

“Is that fox still there then?”

“Course it isn’t, I called the RSPCA first thing. Bloke came round and sorted it this afternoon.”

“Thank God you work from home now; I don’t think I could stand another night of it!”

“Yeah well, how often does a fox end up in your bathroom anyway? That’ll be one to tell the kids.”

“How was it anyway? Didn’t cause too much trouble?”

“Nah the guy was straight in and straight out. Wasn’t deterred by the situation at all. Although I did have a fair bit of cleaning to do after they left…”

“Don’t even go there Max, I have NO desire to hear about what that fox got up to in there. I’m just glad you did it.”

“You know I’d do anything for you Hannah.”

“Oh honestly Max, give it a rest.”

“Don’t go breaking my heart Hannah.”

“Don’t you start quoting Elton John on me Max, you know what that does to me!”

“It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside…”

They laugh, they chat, they reconcile. The night brings well deserved rest without any intruders. Days go by, weeks roll on and months turn to years. But there will always be that night when their relationship was strained. Pushed as it only can be at that hour. Resolved after many a bad word was said. But if you can get past that, then there is hope, and lots of it. But NEVER underestimate the effect of a fox getting stuck in your bathroom.