Thursday, 5 May 2011

Nothing to declare!

Watching the furry creatures running round in their wheels, I tried to remember why I'd said yes. Just how drunk had I been at my birthday party the week before to agree to babysitting my friend's two hamsters?

She was off to Disneyland Paris for the week. And I'd now got myself two extra house mates.

My kids were delighted, of course. But my husband didn't look quite as amused. But that might have been because I'd forgotten to mention they were coming to stay. Then again, I'd forgotten too. Until now.

'You just have to feed them and give them water and they'll be fine,' my friend smiled, plonking the pets down.

Then she headed off, counting her euros, leaving me alone with the furry creatures. 'Can we hold them?' my two-year-old demanded.

I was regretting this already. They weren't as fluffy and cute as I imagined. To me, they looked like large mice in a cage. How could they be fun?

But I handed Panda, the black and white one, to my little girl. Then I squealed. Why were his eyes bulging like that? 'Don't squeeze so hard,' my hubby told her, glaring at me.

Now my eight-year-old son was demanding to hold the other one, Hammy. 'Look he's so sweet,' he said, as he vanished up the sleeve of his jumper.

I shuddered, grateful they didn't want me to cuddle up to one. All I cared about was making sure they survived the week in our house.

I've always been clumsy. On my first date with my husband, who's Italian, I warned him I was accident-prone, but I don't think he believed me.

That was until I tripped over his shoe and grabbed him to stop myself falling, just as he was dishing up his home-made spaghetti Bolognese.

He, me and his walls were splattered. 'It's Mamma's secret recipe,' he said, wiping the Bolognese from his face. 'What are we going to eat now?'

I didn't dare offer to pop to the shops to buy a sauce of Dolmio, so I kissed him instead. It seemed to work as we've been married more than a decadel.

But he still sports the cuts and bruises from living with a klutz. Over the years I've headbutted him while trying to nibble his ears, and tripped him up endlessly.

I'm extra careful around the children – though my other half thinks they should wear a crash helmet whenever they're alone with me.

So I was surprised when he let me take the kids off to Belfast to see a friend overnight – leaving him alone with his new furry best friends.

'Be careful,' he insisted as I headed to the airport. But apart from falling over my friend's dog three times, it was a calamity-free zone.

'I did it,' I thought, proudly, taking the kids to the toilet after we'd landed safely back in London. We all squeezed into a cubicle, washed our hands and headed out.

As we strolled towards the Nothing To Declare exit, a hand clapped me on the shoulder. I span round, shocked. 'Sorry love,' a woman said to me. 'But you've got loo roll stuck in your trousers.'

Mortified, I glanced down. There was a 15ft train of Andrex behind me. 'I'm collecting it for my hamsters,' I spluttered, cheeks burning. 'They get upset if I don't take them back some bedding.'

Roll on Saturday when my friend's back from her hols...

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