All right then. The boy and his mam are away to their Merseyside Granny's at the seaside for a couple of days, and the house is eerily quiet - which gives us the chance to delve into our two-year old's head once more, for the long-awaited concluding instalment of our A-Z of Frankie. Now where were we up to? Oh yes...
T is for... Ten
The current outer limit of the boy's numeracy. Well, perhaps 'numeracy' is too strong a term for the boy's rather variable and idiosyncratic reading of the route:
Jonathan: can you count your fingers, Frankie?
Frankie (enthusiastically, holding both hands up in the air): One-two-three-four-seven-eight-seven-eight-ten!
U is for... Upstairs-Upstairs
Our house is a Victorian terrace with three storeys. The uppermost of these is the attic- or as it is known to Frankie, the 'upstairs-upstairs'. A visit to this mysterious slanty-walled room (to crawl around on the vintage futon that our Swedish friends gave us, look at old photos of daddy with long floppy indiepop hair, and rearrange all the papers on mammy's desk when no-one is looking) is a rare treat, saved up for those difficult breakdowns in pre-bedtime negotiation:
Charlotte (looking at clock): OK Frankie, time to go upstairs now!
Frankie (in style of Almodovar femme-fatale): No, no, no, no!
Charlotte: Well... how about going up to the upstairs-upstairs?
Frankie: (runs excitedly out of room, starts to grapple with stairgate)
V is for... V is for...
well, the truth is I have been struggling with this one. There just don't appear to be as many everyday words beginning with the 22nd letter of the alphabet as you might imagine. The hardback Collins-Robert French/ English dictionary (first reference point for all lexicon-related matters in our house) contains just four pages of entries, and most of these are for rather non-toddler-friendly words such as 'vehemence' ,'versification', and 'verisimilitude'. I'm not even sure that I can in all good conscience offer you 'van', as I believe Frankie calls those particular vehicles 'lorries'. Oh, we are nothing if not scrupulous around here, you know....
W is for... Wonder, Stevie
Despite my best efforts to develop the lad's indiepop sensibilities by showing him motheaten pictures of me up in the upstairs-upstairs in my late eighties heyday and playing him Belle and Sebastian, Talulah Gosh and the Wedding Present very loud at every opportunity (and sometimes very, very quietly; I once lulled six-month old teething baby Frankie to sleep with the aid of 25mg of Calpol and forty-two muted repeat playings of 'My Favourite Dress') Frankie remains resolutely a jazz aficionado and soul-boy at heart, following the example of his mother (a marvellous woman who tunes the radio to 'Smooth FM' whenever I'm not looking). 'Songs in the Key of Life' is a particular favourite- the CD rivalled as a repeat request to be slotted into the slotty bit in our telly (which, owing to our straitened financial circumstances, doubles as a sound system) only by the Koala Brothers DVD on extended loan from Levenshulme library:
Jonathan (tearing own ears off in frustration): Well, maybe that's enough of Stevie for now, Frankie. How about we dance around the room to some of these early Darling Buds singles, eh?
Frankie: No! Wonder! Wonder again!
X is for... X is for....
well, he's not got a xylophone, if that's what you're thinking. And he's similarly unfamiliar with the concepts of xeroxing, xerography and xenophobia (that's right, I've been at the Collins-Robert again). So I think we will move on quickly to...
Y is for... Yes
You will remember that Frankie, like most toddlers, has forty-five different ways of saying 'no', veering from a Paul Mertonesque estuary drawl to a staccato screech reminiscent of an Almodovar femme fatale after one cuba libre too many. He's yet to command such a virtuoso range with its opposite- but he is deveoping a nice line in a long-drawn-out, slightly non-committal and very public-school expression of affirmation, reminiscent of something the late Sir Edward Heath might have come out with on being pressed by Jeremy Paxman on the troubesome legacy of Thatcherism:
Jonathan: Did you have a good time on the swings today, then?
Z is for Zinzi
AKA our next-door-neighbour Lindsey, The Woman With The Cats.
Frankie (peering out of window): Zinzi cats! Zinzi give yed cats moop again roubaback!
which of course, having followed the A-Z conscientiously, you will understand perfectly well (and if not, well you're just going to have to go all the way back to 'A' again, aren't you?). I do hope you have enjoyed this delve into a two-year-old's head as much as I have... now, if you will excuse me, it is Friday night and I have the rare luxury of this three-storey house to myself, so I think I am just going to have to put some early Darling Buds seven inch singles on very loud indeed and dance around the living room to them with gay abandon, even if it means risking the wrath of 'Zinzi' and her damn 'yed cats' in the process. Songs in the key of life, is it? You can stick your Stevie Wonder up your arse, man.