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This page is dedicated to Charles (born November 2002) ... as with all growing boys, he comes out with extraordinary things from time to time. Some of them are recognisable as things we have said being played back, somewhat altered. But most of them come out of the ether, as if by magic. Enjoy them .....

Charles has inherited his father's silly sense of humour. Here are his first three efforts:

What's a cat's favourite colour? - Purrr-ple.

Why did the banana go to gymnastics? - Because he wanted to learn how to do the banana splits.

Why did the cow cross the road?  - To get to the udder side.

(First year at prep school):

Charles' first question about relativity: "Daddy, when I'm your age, will you be dead by then?"

"I don't like chasing girls. I like girls to chase me!"

Ivy: "Do you know what is Daddy's job?" Charles: "Daddy's a boring accountant. But don't worry, I still love you!"

Charles, having just completed swinging across the monkey bars at the playground: "I know. Give me a certificate as a howler monkey. Because I make lots of noise!"

Is there an Oscar Wilde-life park?

(David came back late from a business trip and crept quietly into bed. In the morning, Ivy called Charles and told her there was a strange creature in the bed. Charles said it was Daddy. Ivy asked, `How do you know?' Charles' reply:) `Because he's got blond hair, he's wearing blue pyjamas and he's a boring accountant!'

David (responding to Charles' request for construction materials): `If I can't find a carton, will a vanton do? Or a lorryton?' Charles: `You stupid boy!'

David was somewhere unimportant, when the telephone rang. Charles answered it. A little voice was heard saying, `Daddy's in the lavatory doing a poo!' Little footsteps were then heard, followed by a tapping on the lavatory door. `Daddy! It's the Vicar.'

(October 2007)

Charles asked David to explain a cartoon in the Economist. It represented Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, as a sea monster, with the people of Britain rowing fearfully away from it. It symbolised an encroaching loss of liberty to the state, on the pretext of enhanced protection against terrorism. Quite a complex concept. David patiently explained while Charles (for a change) listened. At the end he demonstrated a precociously acute political judgement: `I can easily stop Gordon Brown. I can get a sword and whack him on his bottom!!'

Charles was playing with some Lego. He brought the result to David. `Daddy, I've made an ambulance. Look. Here are the guns...'

(August 2007)

Playing Cricket: `Daddy, you're the vampire.' David: `What?!' Charles: `I mean umpire.'

`You've got three choices. Go back to Melbourn; go to our hotel room; or I set fire to your bottom.'

`That's a stupid rule. That should be sent to misery-land and thrown into hell.'

On a GPS navigator which speaks the directions: `When we first use it, is the navigator shy?'

`Daddy, who made God?'

`Daddy, how did God get his powers?'

`Daddy, is your tongue long enough to touch God?'

David: `We don't have a big enough garden for a pond'. Charles: `But we can dig the road up and make it into a pond instead!'

David: `I thought you liked the apple & raspberry juice.' Charles: `No I don't. It tastes red!'

`God has to judge everyone. Even Grandma and Grandad!'

`Patrick's a funny name, because he tricks people!'

Ivy: `You can't leave those plates on the table, Charles. You haven't got a slave'. Charles: `Yes I have, Daddy's my slave!'

Charles (to David, on hearing the number 70): `Seventy? That's how old you are!' David: `No Charles, I'm 45'. Charles: `You're not: you're one thousand!'

`Last night I crept into your room and got the telephone and called God, and asked him how big Melbourn was. He said, one thousand plus fifty seven'. `So you spoke to God? What's his telephone number?' `One oh seven!'

(July 2007)

Ivy (to David): `Charles has a domineering streak in him. I wonder where he gets it?' David (ironically): `Probably from his father.' Charles: `No, from Mummy!!'

Charles: `When I get married, I want to marry my mummy!' Ivy: `You can't do that. I'm married already, to Daddy.' Charles: `You can have two husbands, then. One big one and one little one!'

David: `You've got a good, clever brain. Why don't you use it?' Charles: `Because I took the brain cells out last night.'

David accidentally knocked over a castle Charles had built. He looked at the wreckage and said mournfully, `you're not my daddy any more'. David replied, `I'm sorry, Charles. But, if I'm not your daddy, I don't need to get your breakfast now.' Charles looked at him. `Actually you are my daddy again now!'

Charles had drawn a picture of a tree, with short branches very evenly spaced. He explained: `That's a tree with steps. You can climb a tree, so it must have steps!'

`In Heaven you can play cricket ALL the time, because it's never night!'

(During a thunderstorm:) `The thunder sounds like ghosts talking to each other!'

David: `I love you when you're being a good boy.' Charles: `I love you when you're being a good Daddy!'

(June 2007)

Charles would NOT stop talking. David said to Ivy: `We still haven't found the off switch'. Charles overheard and replied, `I have got an off switch; it's in my blood!'

David: `Bees only sting if you make them angry'. Charles: `So, if I put on a suit of armour and fight them with a sword, that will make them angry and they might sting me!'

David (recounting the above to Ivy): `Charles said that if he rushed at them with a sword ....' Charles interrupted: `No, I said if I fight them with a sword!'

Charles asked to go home from the playground by way of the High Street. David said that we would go across the field, because the other way is twice as long. Charles gave David a hard stare, then said: `We'll have to have a little talk about that!'

Learning the Lord's Prayer, Charles made the inevitable mistake: `And lead us into temptation....'

Ivy's brother, Oliver, was due to land at London imminently, having come via Singapore. We were driving to Heath Row to collect him. A little voice from the back said, `are you sure this is the right way to get to Singapore?'!!

(May 2007)

Charles (taking two scoops from the cutlery drawer): `I need to get these out'. David: `What for?' Charles: `For a minute!'

(David was telephoning from a business trip, speaking to Ivy, who relayed the message): `Daddy sends love'. Charles, in the background: `Goody, goody!'

`Charles, why have you got that sharp stick?' `That's so that if a baddie comes, I can poke him in the eye!'

`Oh, then it's William Harwood-Hughes' party, not Will Woods'. Will's a different kind of person'.

(Ivy to David, who had just done a simple domestic task spectacularly badly): `You sometimes think like a two year old!'. Charles (trying to console him): `I don't think you think like a baby, Daddy. I think you think like a hundred year old!'

(April 2007)

(Charles had drawn a picture. We asked him to explain it .....) `This is Humpty Dumpty. He's looking sad because he wants to get on the wall but keeps falling off. That's the King's daughter. She's got her tool box. She's got to repair Humpty Dumpty because he fell off the wall and broke his bottom. Those are the King's men. The King's horses aren't there because they went to the wrong palace. Then they got killed in the second world war, which was a poor, poor, sad thing. [He changed Humpty Dumpty's mouth from a sad semicircle to a full circle] Humpty Dumpty's shouting how. He wants to get away from the King's daughter because she was hurting him where she had to fix him. In fact she was a witch. So Humpty Dumpty jumped on a horse and sped away. But they didn't kill the witch, they just put a spell on the witch, so she died of old age. The end.'

`Lots of things in this house are old. This desk is old. This table is old. Daddy is old.....'

`I came downstairs and saw something sitting on a chair, and I thought it was a monster, but it turned out to be Daddy!'

(Eating sandwiches for lunch): `Let's have a race. Whoever has the most crumbs on their plate wins!'

Charles: `I miss Mummy when she's not here'. David: `So do I'. Charles: `I miss her more than you do'. David: `How do you know?' Charles: `I just know these things!'

Charles was taking a photograph of Ivy. Ivy pulled a funny face, at which Charles said: `Mummy, don't screw your face up. Think of something lovely. Like your son!'

`While you're getting supper ready, can I watch television so I won't disturb you?'

(Charles had just drawn a picture of a frog, and was drawing hair on it's head). David: `Very good, Charles .... except that frogs don't have hair'. Charles: `This is a different type of frog. It's from Barcelona!' (English readers will recognise where he got the idea for that from! For people who have never heard of an English comedy series called Fawlty Towers, it is very funny and well worth seeing if you have a chance).

(March 2007)

David (during bedtime prayer): `Charles, we must always be respectful when we're praying to God'. Charles: `We need to give God a present. When I die, I'm going to take Him all my toys, in case he's got any children!'

(Charles had just drawn a picture of a gun, with a picture of a torch superimposed on it). `The torch is so I don't bump into any goodies or baddies or things. Things, like trees'.

David: `I didn't bring you into the world just to be silly'. Charles: `You didn't bring me into the world. Mummy did'. David: `Well, I'm your daddy, so I'm 50% responsible'. Charles: `And Mummy's a hundred responsible!'

(Bang, Bang). `There's a baddie behind you. I've just shot him'. David: `Why did you have to shoot him? It's better to have the police come and arrest him and put him in prison'. Charles: `No, I've GOT to shoot him, to make sure he doesn't run away before the police get here!'

David: `I think I'm getting a bit of a cold.' Ivy: `Me too'. Charles: `Me three!'

`Daddy, don't hang your arm down outside the bed because it might be eaten by a monster! There are monsters under the bed and they might gobble your arm up. I bought you the monsters in a shop.'

`When my great great great great grandfather died, I bought you and Mummy in a shop. I put you in the trolley and paid and then I wrapped you up, then I got home and unwrapped you, and then I noticed you were alive, and gave you a great big kiss'. Ivy: `How much did you pay for us?' Charles: `One pound for Daddy and two pounds for Mummy!'

Charles was painting a picture. David asked him to explain it. `That's God's suitcase, in case he leaves the world to go on holiday. And that's his wife ....'

David was making a growling noise, pretending to be a tiger. Charles (looking apprehensive): `You aren't a monster are you, to scare your lovely little son?!'

Ivy: `Focus on one thing, Charles. Someone who can't focus will never succeed in life.' Charles' reply? `Please try to understand before one of us dies!'

Charles (looking at a picture of Ivy): `Gorgeous legs!' David: `Yes; but that doesn't stop you eating your rice.' Charles: `Yes it does!'

(On seeing a picture of a black-shouldered Kite, an African bird of prey): `I've seen one of those. When I was with my great great great great grandfather in Africa!'

`What's a landscape? A land which has escaped?'

`Chives are like hair. You can cut them, and paint them, then get the head onto the body, then add the arms and legs and you've made a person!'

`Daddy, you're always a useless man!'

`Yes, plants DO have brains. Look at that flower; those spots on the flower are its brains. That's how it knows we're here .....'

In the car: `Daddy, can you open the window please?' `Why?' `I want to hear the birdsong'. `But Charles, it's pouring with rain; no birds will be singing'. `I want to hear waterproof birds!'

(February 2007)

David to Charles: `Have you got a mind?' Charles: `I've got a brain, and that gives me thinking, and that gives me a mind!'

Ivy (wondering if we could move to a bigger house): `If we can't afford it, can we sell Charles?' Charles (affronted): `Would you really want to sell your gorgeous lovely son?'

Ivy (calling from downstairs): `Who's talking up there?' Charles: `Ivy, it's your husband and your son!'

`Mummy, it's Valentine's day tomorrow, isn't it?' `How do you know?' `Daddy told me. He's got a secret for you. He's hidden it.' `What secret? Where's he hidden it?' `I can't tell you. It wouldn't be a secret then!'

Charles was playing, but it was bedtime. David said: `Two more minutes'. `FOUR', replied Charles. David: `No, two, Charles'. Charles: `Forget about two. Concentrate on four!'

Charles had been to a party, where he had acquired a pot of bubble mixture. When we got home, he tried to open it. `Daddy, can you help me? The thing I'm frustrated about is this silver paper!'

Ivy asked Charles to put something upstairs. He did so, then came back and said: `I've done it. My hiccups helped. They scared off the monster!'

(January 2007)

`I've got four brains. When I'm five, I'll have five brains. And when I'm twenty, I'll have twenty brains ......`

Charles had just finished reading `Jabberwocky'. Ivy asked, `What does Chortle mean?' Charles replied, `The King's just eaten a turkey in his tummy!'

Charles had just called Ivy `stupid'. She asked, `Do you think Mummy's stupid?' Charles: `No, I just think your brain's switched off. And you're not thinking properly!'

Ivy gave Charles some food. He bit too enthusiastically. `Ow! Don't bite me, Charles!' The reply? `They're only little teeth!'

Daddy: `What do you want for breakfast?' Charles: `Cornflakes, silly.' David: `Wrong word.' Charles: `Cornflakes, please'.

Charles (having scoffed two sweets which Mummy had left on the bed): `I was being helpful. I had to eat the toffees before they went off!'

David (sleepily): `I didn't get enough sleep. Charles was talking all the time.' Ivy: `How do you know? You were fast asleep - you were snoring.' Charles: `I couldn't get any sleep because of Daddy snoring!'

David (conveying the need to hurry up): `Charles, clean your teeth!' Charles (who had been dawdling): `Stop shouting at me!' David: `I'm not shouting. I'm urging you to get a move on, or else you'll be late.' Charles: `Well, stop urging me then!'

Charles was eating a Brussels sprout. The outer leaves were peeling back a little from the base. `Look, its head is poking out, it's starting to hatch!'

Charles found a button inside one of his trouser pockets. `Daddy, why's that button hiding?' Daddy (joking): `To hide from the button snake, because it didn't want to be eaten!' Charles: `Don't be silly. There's no such thing as a button snake!'

(December 2006)

Ivy was trying to teach Charles the names of the planets. He got them right up to Jupiter, then hesitated. Ivy prompted him: `Sa....' Immediately Charles said, `Santa Claus!!'

Charles found two sachets of Ivy's eye drops in the bathroom. `Look Daddy', he said, `Mummy's got two eye-pods!'

David was being slow to finish something one evening. Ivy, teasing, said, `Hurry up before that monster goes to sleep!' Charles looked round with an air of surprise and inquired, `What monster?!'

We found a muddy footprint on the dining room floor. David and Charles were speculating who might have made it. Charles said firmly, `Mummy didn't make any muddy footprints.' `How do you know?' asked David. Charles fixed him with a pitying expression and replied, `I just know these things, Daddy!'

(November 2006)

Ivy (referring to something Charles had just done): `Will you tell Daddy?' Charles: `If it remains in my brain I will!'

David: `If you break that, the monster will come out and gobble you up!' Charles: `I don't believe you!!'

(October 2006)

On the telephone from the Philippines. `Would you like a little speak with Mummy?`

In the car on the way to the airport, David asked, `Would you like to play I Spy?' Charles replied, `No. I've got to sort my handkerchieves out. You folded them all wrong.'

Charles was exhibiting some signs of anxiety. David said, `I expect you're anxious about going to the Philippines.' Charles replied, `I'm not anxious. I'm just a little worried.'

`I want chocolate for breakfast'. `No, you can't have chocolate, you know it makes you itch.' `Well, I'll just creep downstairs and get one anyway!'

`I bet that's what you did yesterday'. `No it wasn't! I was nibbling a biscuit.'

In Church, the priest had just finished preparing communion. Charles boldly announced, `Come on you guys, stand up!'

We were having a surreal conversation which entailed (among other things) wondering where schools went for their holidays, and how they made aeroplanes big enough. Ivy, wanting a rest, called a halt. `All right', said Charles cheerfully, `I'll switch my odd brain off!'

David: `Charles, finish your breakfast'. Charles: `I can't. I've got no more space and anyway I'm tall enough already!'

(September 2006)

Packing for a trip: `I need a gun in case there's trouble'. David: `But you're not allowed to take a gun on the aeroplane'. The reply? `It's all right, I'll hide it!'

And talking of girlfriends ..... Charles asked if he was going to school. On hearing `yes', he gave himself away: `Good, I might see Alice.' (Then, realising what he'd said, hastily added: `Or someone else!'

After Eshan's party, Charles' party bag contained a giraffe mask. Later, Ivy was asking him if he had a girlfriend. `No, I don't have a girlfriend', replied Charles; and put on his mask, `look, because I'm scary!'

An unprompted Spoonerism: when we needed to stop, Charles said he would help look for the `par cark'.

Charles announced that a train driver was called a pilot, and could not be dissuade. When we asked how he came to think that, he explained: `When I was born, someone told me a train driver is a pilot'. `Who told you?' `Maybe a monster!' `Were there any monsters there when you were born?' `Yes, I gave a present to my friend who's a monster!!'

In the car, Charles was looking at the road atlas. `The road's jammed', he announced. Puzzled, we asked how he could tell. `The green road's stuck to the red road, and they're jamming the blue road!'

Walking across the sports field on our way back from the playground, we saw a dog running across the field with its owner not in sight. `Look', said Charles, `That dog's looking for its parents!'

(August 2006)

At a country fair, there were various stands including some with sporting guns. Charles of course spotted these and started pestering us to buy him one! After a long time getting nowhere, he tried another tack: `Daddy, please get me a gun. Just to shut me up!'

During a car journey, David and Charles were discussing whether Charles should call David `Dad' or `Daddy'. Charles suggested, `I'll call you both. Dad Daddy. That's double Daddy!'

On our way out to swimming, we noticed that Charles had filled his bag with things which had nothing to do with swimming. To be sure they didn't get lost, Georgina unloaded them, Charles looking disconsolately on. As Georgina was about to zip up the bag again, Charles stopped her: `There's one more bomb!!'

In the middle of bedtime prayers, David noticed that Charles was sucking his thumb: `Thy Will be done; Thy kingdom come .... Charles, thumb!' Charles replied, `That's not part of it!'

From the car, we spotted a sunflower, and pointed it out to Charles. Then he saw that there was a whole field of them, and exclaimed, `Look, it's a whole flock of sunflowers!'

Charles was pretending to shoot. Georgina (affecting shock): `Charles, you shot Daddy in the heart!' Charles (indignant): `No I didn't! I shot him in the neck.'

Later, Charles turned his shooting attention to Ivy. David (with mock horror): `Charles, why did you shoot Mummy?' Charles (defensively): `I didn't; I was about to shoot her!'

Ivy (teasing): `Daddy looks like a duck'. Charles (puzzled): `No; he's got a much bigger head!'

Charles: `You can't watch James bond because it's got guns.' David: `All right, Charles.' Charles: `Well write it down then!'

Charles used the phrase `OG' (which stands for Old Git). Then he said, `OG; that's a horrible word. I got it from you, Mummy. But you're not horrible. You're a nice Mummy!'

David and Charles were driving, and passed the railway line. Charles said, `There are no trains on Sunday, isn't there?' David corrected him: `Aren't there.' So Charles tried again: `There are no trains on Sunday, aren't there isn't there?'

At the playground, Charles was pretending to serve ice cream. `Daddy, do you want some ice cream?' `Yes please: what flavour is it?' `Hippopotamus!!' David pretended to try it then grimaced. `It tastes muddy! Have you got anything else?' `OK Daddy, here's a different ice cream.' `Thank you, Charles; what flavour's this one?' `Tiger!' (David tried that one, but unfortunately it bit him.)

`Charles, don't bounce on the bed: the bed will break'. Charles had the answer: `After you've broken it, why don't you share mine?!'

(July 2006)

Driving along a narrow lane, we slowed down to pass a horse. Charles announced that he wanted a horse. `I'm afraid that's not possible, Charles - we can't afford it, and haven't got space to keep it', replied David. `No Daddy', replied Charles, `I mean a toy horse, so it doesn't do events in the house!'

Charles came upstairs to clean his teeth. Ivy asked, `Charles, did you finish your lunch?' Charles looked at her and replied, `Breakfast, not lunch. Haven't you got enough brain?!'

At a birthday party, Charles and some other boys were making `pancakes' out of soil in the back garden. We discovered this, saw the amount of soil adhering to him, and exclaimed: `Charles, you're covered in mud!' Charles smiled happily and replied, `Good!!'

David asked Charles to finish his dinner `if you've got room'. Charles replied, `I've got LOTS of room. In my head, in my legs, in my tummy ...'

Charles found a small hole in one of the beams in the house. His little finger fitted into it exactly. He asked David how the hole was made. Before David could answer, Charles continued, `Maybe it was me. Maybe my arm had to be chopped off and hammered!'

Charles told us that one of his school friends had snatched something from him. We asked what it was. `It was a very important thing. A sort of gun thing.'

(June 2006)

While David and Charles were out, David took a wrong turn. When he told Charles what he had done, a little voice came from the back of the car: `Old gits sometimes do that.' Later, back home, David told this to Ivy, who looked seriously at Charles and asked, `Do you think Daddy's an old git, then?' Charles replied, `Oh no, he's a good git!'

David and Charles were getting some food ready to go out for the day while Ivy slept after work. Charles went straight for the fruit bowl. `Let's take some bananas.' He picked up one which was slightly black at one end. `How about this rotten one for you?`

Ivy was talking to her parents. Charles joined in. Lola asked him what he was doing. `I'm talking to you. What do you think I'm doing, silly?!'

Ivy asked Charles what he wanted to take for lunch at school. He grinned wickedly. `A gun sandwich!'

Charles picked up the post. `This is just silly garbage', he announced, and put it straight in the recycling pile! (This time, actually, he was right - but now we know where the last electricity bill went!)

Ivy suddenly turned to Charles and demanded, `Who's the boss?' Without hesitation, Charles replied, `I'm the boss of cricket, Daddy's the boss of cleaning his shoes, and Mummy's the Boss.'

We were watching the Cricket - England v Sri Lanka. David was explaining to Charles who was playing, and pointed out that it was good if the English were winning because we're English. `I'm not English', replied Charles. `What are you, then?' `I'm gunnish and swordish!'

It was 6am. Charles bounded into our bedroom and announced, `It's light in my bedroom, it's getting up time!'. He then proceeded to bounce on our bed. Ivy objected and said she was trying to sleep. A little grumbly voice replied, `that's not my problem, that's your problem!'

Ivy was trying to teach Charles a few words in Tagalog. One was palacio (Palace). A couple of hours later, Ivy asked, `Charles, what does palacio mean?'. Charles thought for a moment then said, `Pub!'

(May 2006)

`Charles, have you washed your hands?' `Yes'. We noticed a couple of smudges. `Then what are those marks?' `Mud!'

In the car, Charles mentioned the senses. David explained about sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. `I've got another sense', said Charles. `Really?! What's that?' `Don't touch wasps or bees or they might sting you. That's sense.'

David: `Charles, wash your face.' Charles: `I can't with one hand.' David: `Well, put your gun down, then wash your face!'

At breakfast, Charles suddenly announced, `Daddy, Georgina's Jones.' `What?', asked a puzzled David. `Georgina's Jones. And you're Wilson, and Mummy's Captain Mainwaring, and I'm Pike.' (This hilarious - and, apart from identifying Georgina with an 80 year old ex-soldier who fought in the Sudan, remarkably apposite - remark will be completely unintelligible unless you happen to have seen a British comedy programme called Dad's Army!)

David was doing a puzzle from the paper. Charles looked over his shoulder and asked what he was doing. David replied, `It's called SuDoku, Charles.' Charles, looking interested, replied: `Can I help with the Su.....what you said?'

Charles and David were out walking. Charles noticed the chimney from the local cement works, from which rose a high plume of steam. Charles pointed, and said, `Oh look! That's where the clouds come from.'

Ivy was resting; David took Charles upstairs to have his bath. Instead of going to the bathroom, Charles shot straight into the bedroom and leapt into bed beside Ivy. David tried to persuade him to come bathwards. `No Daddy', he insisted, `You bring the bath here!'

(April 2006)

Charles woke up at half past six, immediately started talking, and continued for over an hour. At which point he looked at us and said cheerfully, `I never stop talking, do I?'

During this monologue, at one point Charles announced, `Mummy's sometimes bad.' David replied, `No she isn't, Mummy's wonderful.' To which Charles responded firmly, `Don't contradict me! She's sometimes bad.'

Ivy asked Charles how old he is - something he always gets right. But today was an exception, as he replied: `Three and a quarter and a half!'

Charles was trying to put his socks on, and gave up. Ivy, encouraging him, said: `Come on Charles, you can do it, it's a piece of cake!' Charles looked at her puzzled. `Is it made out of cake? It's not a piece of cake. It's a sock!'

Charles pretended to shoot David with his toy gun. He then went to Ivy and announced, `Mummy, your husband's dead!'

Ivy and Charles were having an argument. Charles, sulkily, announced: `I want to buy a new mummy!'

In the bath, Charles suddenly decided to make a speech! He began, `Lazy and gentlemen ....'

We have been trying to get him to stop talking by making a zipping motion across his mouth. It worked for a grand total of two days until, in Church on St George's day, he followed the zipping motion then reversed it and cheerfully announced, `I've unzipped it!'

We were explaining that some people are stronger than others. Charles pointed out that `we're all made of strongness!'

Playing with a toy aeroplane, Charles announced that he needed to drop some bombs. David said (with some relief) that we didn't have any. Charles replied, `We'll have to go to the bomb shop'.

Charles pointed to some old holes in the wall in our kitchen. David pointed out the configuration of the holes, showed Charles a matching supporting bracket and explained that the holes must therefore be old screw holes for a bracket, since removed and the holes filled in. Charles responded, `No, I think it was a nice woodpecker that came in and made the holes!'

Charles finished his juice at a gulp. `Where's your juice gone?', asked David. Charles pointed to his stomach and said cheerily, `It's in here, being converted into Charles!'

We were eating liver for dinner. Charles took a couple of suspicious mouthfuls, then announced, `I don't like Lizard!'

We were playing I Spy. When it was Charles' turn, he said, `I spy with my little eye something beginning with R'. Neither David nor Georgina could guess it. Eventually they gave up and asked Charles what it was. `Robot'. `Where is the robot? I can't see one', replied a perplexed David. Charles had the answer ready: `I was pretending to be a robot'.

David was trying to do some household jobs which Charles couldn't help with ... and Charles was pestering him to play. David said, `Charles, can you leave me in peace for five minutes please?' Charles replied: `I'm going to give you NO peace!'

Visiting a historic castle, Charles found a dark passage which turned out to be a dead end. David suggested it might be where the monster slept, and said it was a good thing the monster was out. Charles replied, `It's gone to London to eat the Queen!'

After getting back from seeing the knights at the castle, Charles didn't eat his supper. When pressed, he replied: `Knights don't eat their food. They just go straight out to work!'

Charles, with his toy cooking set, was preparing to cook a cake. Getting the necessary implements ... `we need a gun in case there's trouble!'

David was reading the conclusion of an article in the Economist, which ended: `If women are to get out and power the global economy, it is surely fair that men should at last do more of the housework'. Charles immediately replied, `That's ridiculous!!'

(March 2006)

We were discussing possible reasons why Charles sometimes doesn't eat his food. Charles interrupted, `Why don't you ask me?'. David looked at him and asked him the question. Charles' reply: `I'm sometimes good and sometimes naughty, and when I'm bad I mess about and don't eat my food!'

Ivy had been helping at South Farm when there was an attempted burglary. Naturally very shaken, Ivy returned home and told David the story. At this point Charles woke up and said, `Mummy, you should go to the police, and they'll give you a punch, then you can use the punch to hit the burglars, then they won't shoot you!'

After we had finished some painting and cleaned the brush, David got Charles some juice and biscuit. It was a different type of juice. Charles looked at it suspiciously and asked if he was allowed to have it. David assured him it was OK, and read out the list of ingredients, until he got to `colour'. Charles interrupted: `I can't drink that. It's got paint in it!'

David went to bed and discovered Charles, awake. Charles, very sleepy, started to tell him about a bad dream he'd had. `I was on the wailway'. David corrected him: `Railway.' `I was on the wailway'. `Railway'. `I was on the thing that trains go on......'

Charles started to roll about just outside the front door. Ivy called, `Charles, get off the floor!' Charles looked at her, surprised, and said: `It's not the floor. It's the ground. It's got pebbles.'

David had forgotten something, and Ivy had expressed doubts about his mental capacity. Charles intervened: `Daddy, you're not an old git, you're a fit young man, and you're my father!'

Charles was using a cardboard roll as a sword. David warned him, `be careful not to smash anything - especially Mummy or Daddy!' Charles replied, `If Mummy or Daddy are smashed, I can put you back together with some sellotape!' [Sellotape is the English equivalent of Scotch tape, for any American readers!!]

Further updates at 3 1/4, February 2006

Starting to play `I spy' with Charles in the car, using simple words so he begins to learn spelling. It was Charles' turn. `I spy with my little eye something beginning with O'. David tried some guesses without success. What was it? `Steering wheel'. `But Charles, steering wheel begins with S'. `No Daddy, the steering wheel's a circle, so it's the letter O!'

A few days later, we were playing `I spy' while waiting for the doors of his nursery school to open. One of his friends came in just as it was Charles' turn, which induced him to say: `I spy with my little eye something beginning with ... George!'

Charles arrived home with some art he'd been doing at school. The teacher had written his name at the top; Charles pointed to it and said it was his name. `What's your name, Charles?', asked Ivy. Charles pointed to the paper and said, with great deliberation as though really reading, `I'm Charles Daniel Bell, three years old and not a monster.'

David was driving Charles home, when suddenly a little voice called out from the back, `I love you!'. `That's a lovely thing to say, Charles; I love you too', replied David. The little voice came again: `I wasn't talking to you!' (then more quietly) `I love you, Charles!!'

At the zoo, we were looking at the tigers. There were a male and female. Charles said, `There's a mummy tiger and a daddy tiger. Where's the Charles tiger?' Daddy replied that there wasn't one. `I know', said Charles, `The Charles tiger is at school!' (Which Daddy had to spoil by pointing out that it was half term).

When going flying, David had warned Charles to stay clear of propellers. Charles, in `one of those moods', replied: `I'll put you in the propeller!'. David, shocked: `But I'll be chopped to bits, then you'll never have a daddy ever again!' Charles had the answer: `Yes I will, I'll buy one!'

Waiting to go into Charles' nursery, he knocked a sign into one of the other parents. Having failed to apologise, David prompted: `Charles, what do you say?' Silence. `Charles, I'm waiting: it begins with S'. `Sausage!'

At breakfast, Charles got some cereal on his hand. He surreptitiously put his hand under the table and wiped it on his trousers. `Charles, don't do that!', said David. Charles looked at him with a look of wounded innocence and replied, `But you couldn't see me do it!!'

Playing with his toy tractor, the cab came off. David said he would mend it, but Charles quickly put it back on then said, `look, it won't come off now.' To prove the point he pulled it ... and it came off. At which Charles said, `Well, maybe a bit!'

(Further updates at Christmas 2005)

Charles pointed to his chair. `That's my house'. David asked how he stops the burglars getting in. `I've got a lion and a tiger!'. replied Charles. Then, after a pause, he said: `Chomp, Chomp, yum yum, I like burglars!!'

Charles put Ivy's slippers on the stairs. Why? `So we can go down either side'.

Charles had finished his supper; David was still eating his soup. Charles leaned over. `Here's a fish', he said, dropping an imaginary fish into David's soup. `It's still alive - it's swimming about', said David. Charles heaved a resigned sigh. `Oh dear. I should have shot it.'

Charles saw something which reminded him of a coconut, and pointed it out. Then, `Coconuts are where coke comes from, that you drink!!'

Preparing to go and visit David's parents, Charles was throwing more and more of his toys into the suitcase. `Stop!', said Ivy: `We can't take the whole house to Hexham!' `We can', replied Charles. `I'll just cut it in half, we'll put one half in the suitcase and leave the other half here!' (He then got his toy hammer and screwdriver and started making believe to dismantle the floor!)

On the way, we asked Charles if he wanted a drink. He got one, then announced: `The car's thirsty. The car told his friend, he's still thirsty.'

Arrived at David's parents' house, Charles started stroking a cat, only to discover it to be made of porcelain. `That's not real. How can it move?`

Ivy was looking at the display in a jewellery shop. Charles produced his gun. `Are you going to rob us?', asked the assistant. `No', replied Charles. `I'm only joking. It's not real. It's only a toy.`

Charles got up before we did, and commanded: `Come on, you two!'

Charles confessed that he had been jumping on the bed. Grandad said that Mummy and Daddy must have had a terrible night. Charles replied, `No, I only jumped on the empty bits!'

Grandad had been doing his exercises, and asked Charles if he had been doing his. Charles replied, `I've been exercising by jumping around!'

Mummy: `What happened to your cake?' Charles: `Daddy saw it, and gobbled it up in one gulp, and when I went into the kitchen it wasn't there!'

David went into the kitchen and asked if he could help. Grandad replied, `No, just go and look after Charles.' David went into the dining room, and was confronted by Charles saying: `Grandad says you've got to stay with ME. Don't go away again. Sit. SIT!'

There was snow in Hexham, and we built a snowman. Then went out. As we were leaving, Charles said, `When we get back we must build a bigger snowman. This is the smaller size.'

Talking about food, Ivy jokingly said she would like to eat Charles. Charles burst into doleful howls. `No Mummy', he sobbed. `If I was in your mouth I wouldn't be able to watch television!'

David: `Charles stop interrupting!' Charles' reply: `Daddy, shut up when I'm talking!'

Charles snuggled up beside a sleeping Ivy, who half woke. Charles said, `It's only me. It's only me after all. It's not a monster.'

Charles kicked David, who tried to make him say sorry by raising his hand in a threatening gesture. Charles winced and said, `Don't hit me! I'm only a tiny boy!'

Charles: `Silly Mummy!'. Ivy: `Don't call Mummy silly.' Charles: `Sorry, silly.'

Ivy (teasing): `You don't love me!' Charles: `Of course I love you, you slug!'

. And aged 3 (updated 10 December 2005)

Mummy: `This house used to be clean.' (Looking at Charles) `What happened?'. Charles: `It was the bees!'

Mummy had just described Daddy as an old git. Charles defended him robustly: `No, that's NOT an old git. You big lump!'

Charles: `I've got a BIG idea!'. Mummy: `What's your idea?' Charles: `Instead of Daddy going to work and Mummy going shopping, let's ALL go to my nursery, so we can wash our hands and have biscuits!'

Mummy (teasing): `That's a stupid idea.' Charles, robustly, evidently practising for the future: `You're a stupid Mummy!'

We were reading his animal book. David pointed to the picture of a camel, and asked him what it was. Charles replied, `A Calpol!'

... And aged 2 3/4 (updated September 2005) ... and you won't believe how hard it was to teach Charles that he's now two and three quarters, having just got used to being two and a half ....

We were doing some housework, much to Charles' frustration as he wanted to play. As David emptied the bin, Charles pointed at him and said, `Daddy, you're rubbish!'

On his way to the playground in the village, Charles picked up a stick. `This is my fishing rod', he announced. `What have you caught with it?', I asked. `Dried fish!'

Next day he went to the playground with David, taking the same stick. David also asked what he had caught. This time Charles said, `A kipper!' (David didn't have the heart to point out that this wasn't possible, because a kipper would have been asleep).

Finally on the fishing front .... we were walking by the stream, and Charles announced that he wanted to use his rod to catch something. What would he like to catch? `A Kingfisher!'

Charles' first pun!! Driving along in Leicestershire, we saw a buzzard circling over a wood. As it dipped out of sight behind the trees, a little voice came from the back: `It's buzzard off!'

Driving back late at night, David and Charles were singing `Twinkle, twinkle, little star'. It was a clear night, and the stars were clearly visible. David asked if Charles could see them. He could; `What are they doing?', he asked, expecting Charles to say `Twinkling'. Instead, Charles said `Sleeping!' Surprised, David asked Charles how he could tell. `Because I can hear them snoring!!'

Charles (to David, who was concentrating on driving): `Daddy!' Ivy: `Yes Charles?' Charles: `Shut up, I'm talking to Daddy!'

Charles, opening a door, hit Daddy on the toe. `Ow', said David. `Never mind', said Charles, `I was only joking!'

After seeing a television programme about animals, Charles pointed at Ivy. `Mummy's a lion!' `What are you, Charles?' `Charles is a tiger!'. `So what's Daddy?' `Daddy's an orang utan!'

Charles had said something which made Ivy pretend to be upset and leave the room. Charles looked after her, and sighed. `Oh dear, what will we do with Mummy?'

Charles spotted that a light bulb had failed. He pointed: `Look, Mummy, the bulb has run out!'

...And aged 2 1/2 (updated 16 June 2005):

We were watching Fawlty Towers: the episode (for those who know it) with the rat. Basil went into Manuel's room and asked him to go up to the roof and take two dead pigeons out of the water tank. Manuel looked at him, open mouthed, not understanding. Basil: `It's not hard, Manuel, this is not a proposition from Wittgenstein. Two dead pigeons in water tank, take out.' Later that day we wanted Charles to do something, and he wasn't doing it. I said, `Come on Charles, it's not hard'. A little voice replied, `Not propsition Wittstein'

David was changing the bedclothes with Charles `helping'. Charles found a curtain hook on the floor and asked what it was. `It's a curtain hook, Charles'. He toddled over to the curtain, reached up and started trying to hang the hook on the bottom hem. `No Charles', said David, `it goes on the top of the curtain, to hang the curtain on the rail'. Charles looked at him and said firmly, `Get me a ladder!'

Charles came into the kitchen where I was cooking. `Mummy you're a beautiful angel! Mummy gorgeous!' I replied, `You're fooling me.' `No Mummy, Charles not fooling. Mummy gorgeous.' I looked at him. `What do you want?' He grinned. `Biscuit!!'

We were eating dinner, which contained beans and aubergine. Charles carefully extracted the aubergine, put it on the side of his plate and said, `I can't eat that. It's got stripes. Bean's got no stripes. Charles eat beans.'

Charles was refusing to eat his food so David was feeding him. Charles tried to kick him. `Charles, don't kick me with those great big boots!', said a horrified David. `No Daddy, Charles tiny; Charles boots tiny!'

We woke up tired after a fractious night. I looked at David and said, `For some reason I was awake all night.' David, looking back at me, said `I can think of a reason'. A little voice from the side piped up, `Charles! Me!'

On the way back from the Philippines, we were waiting in Singapore airport. Looking at our tickets, we noticed that Charles' ticket read, `Bell / Charles MSTR' (= Master). `Look, Charles', said David, `They obviously know all about you. It says so here: Bell - Charles - Monster'. `No, Daddy', howled Charles, `I'm NOT a monster!', and he burst into inconsolable sobs!

The first collection of Charles' classic phrases, aged 2 1/4:

When David was about to go to work: `No! Mummy go to work, Daddy stay with Charles!'

When David finally did set off for work: `Daddy buggered off'

When I was trying to talk to David: `Mummy, shut up, Charles talking!'

When I was trying to persuade him to eat his food: `Calm down, Mummy!'

When he woke up before I did after an afternoon snooze: `Mummy, get out of bed now, lazy lump!'

When he had squeezed and bent a banana until it started to turn black: `Charles mend it!'

When we were lying in bed: `Charles, do you love Mummy?' `Yes'. `How much?' `Ten'. `Ten out of what? Ten out of a hundred?' `No Mummy, ten out of one!'

Charles hit the wall with his belt. David expressed shock and told him not to damage the house. Charles went over to the wall: `Sorry house', he said, and kissed it better!

When David was trying to get him to hurry up and get ready to go out: `There's always tomorrow!!'