This evening I read the girls Apes A-Go-Go, a short story about unintended consequences. It is set in a provincial town, on the verge of winning the Tidiest Town competition for a third consecutive year. Except one flower is slightly out of place…
Fussy Great Ape is on hand to rectify this, but in doing so he earns the mayor’s opprobrium by wrecking the rest of the flowerbed. Not to worry, for with a quick thump of his chest and yodelling the clarion call, "Cuppa Cocoa! Apes A-Go-Go!", Mucky Great Ape, a talented gardener, is summoned.
He fixes the flowerbed but covers the street in mud, so the shout goes up again, this time bringing Sopping Great Ape, who washes away the mud but floods the town, and is followed by Smashing Great Ape, who punches drainholes to get rid of the floodwater, but also leaves the town looking like Swiss cheese, a problem rectified by (in succession) Sweeping Great Ape, Baking Great Ape and Smashing Great Ape.
Although there are no lessons about simian behaviour, there is a wise moral about concerning yourself too much with tidy town competitions. La Serpiente loved shouting "Cuppa Cocoa! Apes A-Go-Go" and only at appropriate points, rather than continuously.
I felt it missed out on Blooming Great Ape (surely the first choice for rectifying flowerbed problems?) and it’s never explained why the apes don’t arrive en masse to answer Fussy Great Ape’s call, as it’s exactly the same regardless of which ape is being called for. Is it because each subsequent ape is deafer than those that precede it, so only the combined voices suffice to bring each one (but that seems a bit too convenient for the plot, and it’s ethically questionable as to how you’d orchestrate that)? Or is it because the apes arrive at random (which again, leaves a lot up to coincidence, but leaves the door open for various many-worlds reimaginings of the story, wherein the apes arrive in different sequences)? Or is there some other nuance I’m missing?
Anyway, both girls like it, but although I thought this would mean an easy bedtime, I then had to battle rank insubordination from the girls when they refused to get their water bottles (even when in plain reach, they kept demanding I picked the bottles up for them), swiftly degenerating (when I stormed out the room) into both girls screaming and pulling on the bedroom door handle, while I hung on the other side keeping the door shut. My finest hour of parenting, it was not.