Yakety Twins

I mightn’t post here very often these days, but when I do… Gold. Solid gold…

Dinosaur adventures

This blog has lain rather fallow since the arrival of the Twin Monkeys; they and the Little Monkey have been keeping us busy, as this video attests… It features “Andy” going on a dinosaur adventure to find some pumice, which is why I am both a T. rex and Hatty, a female Australian archaeologist…

How Geeks Get Twins

How geeks get twins.

How geeks get twins.

The Arrival of Twin Monkeys

Robin Oliver and George Arthur were born at 11:32am and 11:33am, respectively, on Wednesday 27th August 2014, tipping the scales at 6lb 5oz and 6lb 6oz.

George models this season's must-have elephant motif sleepsuit, while Robin looks splendid in yellow stripes

George models this season’s must-have elephant motif sleepsuit, while Robin looks splendid in yellow stripes

George Arthur

George Arthur

Robin Oliver

Robin Oliver

Little Monkey and Little Robin

Little Monkey and Little Robin

I'm about 83% sure that's George

I’m about 83% sure that’s George

Am I a believer? Why, yes I am, thanks for your kind enquiry.

The Little Monkey’s dance moves have largely lain dormant after his early promise. He’s always been fairly good at following instructions, and his dingle-dangle-scarecrowing is exemplary; but it’s only very recently that he’s started busting out his joyous freestyle moves. The music, by the way, is EMF with Vic & Bob; their new sit-com may be dreadful, but they were kings of the 90s…

So long and thanks for all the cat food.

Sadly, after 15-odd years and lots of sitting on laps, Binky Mackenzie has died. Upon reflecting on our time together I realised that I have spent more time living with him than any human apart from my mum (Ghengis and Fluff come ahead of him in cat terms). In his later years, in retirement in north Essex, he did lots of sleeping; but I like to remember him in his glory years, when you could lie in bed, thump your hand on the duvet, and hear his paws thudering along as he ran to jump up and sit on your chest.

The Little Monkey hides from the camera flash behind a conveniently positioned feline.

The Little Monkey hides from the camera flash behind a conveniently positioned feline.

Binky came to live with Mrs. Monkeyshines and I in the pre-Little-Monkey era, so has been a constant in his young life. I enjoyed watching them together; Binky was mostly oblivious, but the Little Monkey was always very kind, and enjoyed giving him “a nice gentle stroke” and listening to him purring. I don’t know how much he’ll remember about Binky, but perhaps the seed of cat-personhood has been planted…

Little Monkey Games

Little Chef It’s interesting how things seem to suddenly just ‘click’ with the Little Monkey. Until recently, he’s been a bit ambivalent about jigsaw puzzles; he’d do a few two-piece ones in a desultory manner, but that’d be it. But he received a 30-piece puzzle (a police mise en scene) for Christmas, which he loves doing, and is already adept at matching and orienting pieces. Presumably all the requisite skills were gradually being established, to lie latent until such time as he was presented with a suitable challenge.

Another recent skill is game-playing; two months ago, there’s no way he would have displayed his current mastery of Monkey Bingo. But now he understands the whole concept of matching the pictures, marking his card with little coins, being in competition, then shouting “Bingo” when he completes his card. Another Christmas game, about posting letters, is also a current favourite, and he enjoys telling you a) if it’s your turn and b) what you should do to win. So he’s still got some work to do on honing that competitive edge… DSC03484

(I haven’t got any pictures of us playing Monkey Bingo, so you’ll have to make do with him enjoying some of his other Christmas gifts. That plastic orange recorder in the picture on the right has seen some action; Father Christmas is going to be asked for quiet presents next year…)

The footballing skills of the young Father Christmas

The young Father Christmas showed some footballing promise, but his raw talent was at the mercy of his wild temperament…

A Christmas Monkey

Father Christmas

“Yes, I’m Father Christmas, what’s it to you?”

The Little Monkey has spent much of the last two weeks in his Father Christmas outfit, and enjoys delivering presents down imaginary chimneys. He does a very sweet thing when pretending, where he repeats the verb describing what he’s doing; for example, when pouring tea he’ll say “pour, pour, pour”, and when putting trains in children’s stockings (everyone gets a train) he says “put, put”.

The boy generally has a cheerful disposition, and certainly no less so when dressed as Santa. Unfortunately, although he’s at least willing to pose for a photo, a smile is as likely as snow on Christmas Day. So please use your imagination, and pretend he’s beaming in this picture.



The Little Monkey was a Little Sheep in his recent pre-school nativity. He was unwilling to wear the ears, so in the picture he looks more choirboy-ish than ovine. I’m sure his performance would have been stellar if he had wanted to join the other children at the front of the church. Certainly, his bell ringing during Jingle Bells, while sat with me at the front, was exemplary. I shall look forward to his brilliant interpretation of “camel number three” next year.

Little Monkese

Ready for puddles As I was writing the subtitles for the charming Little Monkey’s most recent video, I realised how much translating Mrs. Monkeyshines and I do, without really thinking about it. It’s like he has his own dialect, Little Monkese, that takes some getting used to.

Of course, many of the Little Monkey’s pronouncements require a knowledge of what constitutes his world, meaning that you need to know your Ariellas from your Squirmtums. And there are a variety of idioms which only make sense if you’re aware of the background; for example, you might not expect him to say “You don’t like your curtain pole”. But if you know he thinks it looks “a dit bit-dit bit like a moose”, then you can understand why he might find it somewhat unsettling.

All duffelled up For a long time the Little Monkey has said “a dit bit-dit bit like” rather than “a little bit like”. I’m not sure where the extra syllable came from, but the repeated-syllable motif is common in Little Monkese. He’s started to give a bit of nuance to the repetition lately, so that the first syllable of table (“tay-tay”) has the whisper of a “b” at the end. Present participles are still clearly repeated, however, such as “go-go” rather than “going”, which does lend the verb a rather pleasing immediacy.

He’ll have a good bash at polysyllabic words, but sometimes bits fall off somewhere between his brain and his mouth, such that he can’t “memb” (remember) if he had “por’ thi'” (porridge fingers) for breakfast. Mystifyingly, he has recently started mispronouncing a few words which he used to say, if not perfectly, then at least comprehensibly; he has introduced a “kuh” sound followed by a sort of glottal stop in the place of the first syllable of, for example, banana, which is now “kuh’mama”. The deciphering of the following is left as an exercise for the reader: kuh’loon, kuh’raaf, and kuh’starsh…