Under the counter with Lyndsay Calder
Saturday 26 July 1997
I bought him from a charming Singaporean man. I must feed him, hug him, wash him and play with him - otherwise he will die. He is Rakuraku Dinokun, my new baby dinosaur from Japan. I have just watched him hatch in my kitchen, and now he is sleeping like a baby. I don't know when he will need feeding, or how long he will sleep, but apparently he will make a noise when he is hungry, thirsty or sick, or wants to play. His breathing does seem a bit fast; I'm concerned already. I'll put him next to my bed tonight.
He has slept all night. At 8.30am, when I have to leave for a 9am meeting, he is still asleep, so I take him with me. At 9.10am, he wakes up. This is a very serious meeting. I ignore him. Every 10 minutes, he makes a noise. I pretend the noise has nothing to do with me, and look blank. The woman politely says nothing. He continues to make a noise all the way home on the North Circular. I dash into the house, take him out, and try to see what's wrong. I think he is crying - I can't tell exactly. I try to feed him, bathe him, and give him a drink, but no change. Finally, I think he might be ill, and give him an injection. He stops crying.
I decide that now that he feels better, he may be thirsty. I give him a drink, which he drains, then gives me a big smile. He is equally pleased with a burger. He seems to like this feeding, so I try an ice-cream. More smiles. But now I'm worried that I am overfeeding him. I check his weight. Oh no - he has put on a kilo. I hope that's OK. He can play scissors-paper- stone, but he cries until we have another game. This is taking up all my day.
I had better describe my baby dinosaur: he is not exactly Lost World material. He is about 1cm tall, is part of a turquoise plastic key-ring, and appears in the form of graphics on a screen. There are five yellow buttons, which allow me to select water, food, hugs, vital statistics, a game, education and reading, showering, air-conditioning and the doctor. If he has good care, he will turn into a beautiful dinosaur, according to the translation of the Japanese instructions.
I have been working for an art dealer all day, whose Scottish colourists rather took my mind off the baby. I haven't looked at him since breakfast - and he was still asleep then. It's 6pm now, and I am on the Northern Line. I look into my bag and gasp loudly. He is dead. He is an ex-baby dinosaur. His eyes are closed, there is a flashing halo above his head and a crucifix by his side. I am racked with guilt. He was only three days old, and four kilos, and I failed to care for him. Now he will never turn into that beautiful dinosaur (unless I reset him, that is).
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