Alex James: The Great Escape

Will twins be double trouble?
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The Independent Online

I wasn't sure whether I was ready to leave London behind when we moved out here to the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. There's been no looking back, though. It is vital to keep going back to London, or I would go mad, but there are just as many ways of blissfully pottering around in the country as there are in the city.

People say: "What the hell do you do all day and in the evenings?" I always have to scratch my head and say: "Not much." You can't explain the joys of Wellington boots and strap-on torches to people who don't want to listen. Some people just don't get it. It's working for us, though. We've just about managed to hang on to our good friends, plus you get new ones when you move. It was having a baby that finally swung the balance in favour of the countryside - it's a good place to be a family. Geronimo is two this week and he seemed keen to have a party. We were, anyway. He's still mesmerised by anything with big wheels, but his latest fascinations are "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys, and tigers. He's been saying "tiger" a lot recently. It was a fancy-dress party and we managed to find a tiger outfit in Witney. He didn't seem that keen on wearing it when the big day came and we had to bribe him with biscuits. The girls were all happily dressed up as fairies and princesses, but the little boys seemed to have more trouble getting into character. There was a rather confused pirate and a couple of sad Noddies.

After what I witnessed at Crazy Daisies toddler group, a few weeks back, I had been anticipating a violent storm, Force 11, with possible structural damage. We'd cleared the decks and battened down the hatches but the 20-odd toddlers played beautifully. There was no biting, hair-pulling or eye-poking. I sat down in the middle with a guitar and started singing "Barbara Ann". Geronimo started dancing and the parents joined in singing. "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" is always a winner on these occasions, and "Bob the Builder" is guaranteed to bring the house down.

I keep forgetting we're expecting twins in June, and every time I remember it's a little bit nearer. It's two more boys, and the consultant in foetal medicine, the scan man, says he can't tell them apart so they could well be identical. Claire didn't even pretend to conceal her disappointment about not having a girl. I couldn't make it to the clinic, so I was anxiously waiting for the phone call. "Anything wrong?" I said. "Yeah, two sets of balls," she said. "Jesus, one of them's got two sets of balls!" "No, one set each." I'm quite pleased it's boys, for reasons of economy. We've already got a houseful of little diggers, dumpers and bulldozers.

Our friends from Cornwall, who have identical twin girls, came to stay for the weekend. So we could start boning up. It is very difficult to tell which one is which with identicals - they like to dress the same, apparently. The family car was so enormous and full of equipment that it has mice living in it and they can't work out where the nest is. The girls are three now, and they say that they can get out a bit more, as long as they take a nanny with them. At least we've got nice views here.

alexjames@independent.co.uk

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