JOURNAL May 2012
w Wil o l l o F at: com daily spot. g o l b 2. twars n a / / http:
Original photographs of Wilson used by kind permission of TamanduaGirl: www.livingwithanteaters.com
Tuesday There is now nothing I don’t know about my garden shed, its history and contents. It turns out that Wilson was not so much rehearsing giving his guided tours as training Antony and me to conduct them. I don’t know what W is thinking of charging for entry to his Wilson Vermilingua OBE Museum of Old Stuff, but with all due respect, if Antony was my tour guide I would feel I had overpaid; Antony is, after all, only a small stuffed toy. wednesday Wilson’s birthday draws ever closer. Although he’ll be five, this will be his first ever birthday, so I want it to be a good one. I’ve bought him a few things, plus I’m planning a Big Surprise. W seems to respond well to big surprises, whereas I always regard them as cataclysmic tribulations! W, meanwhile, is preparing for the Red Carpet Premiere of Titanic: The Film, even though there has been no interest shown by any of the many Hollywood executives he has approached. Now he says that an Art Cinema release would be altogether more appropriate anyway.
thursday Wilson has never struck me as a very political animal, so I was quite surprised this morning when he asked me to give him a lift to the Polling Station. There are three problems to this: 1) he is not registered to vote; 2) I’m not sure anteaters can register to vote and; 3) there are no elections in our district today. But I was curious to know why W wanted to vote. I asked him about it, and he told me that he wanted to cast his vote for ‘that nice Mr Cameron’. I was deeply shocked as I’d always assumed that, in spite of his capitalist tendencies, if anything W would be a bit of a socialist. After some discussion it emerged that there was some confusion in his mind between James Cameron (top film maker and W’s hero) and David Cameron (posh bloke who doesn’t know the price of milk). After we’d straightened that out, he said not to bother registering him to vote.
friday Wilson has been fine-tuning his plans for the Red Carpet Premiere of Titanic: The Film. He has sent invitations to the Mayor of Uckfield, James Cameron (not David!), all the movers and shakers in the local Arts scene and (in spite of the recent unpleasantness when they accused him in print of being a sheep rustler) the local press. He tells me that there will be ant-based snacks a-plenty, and the Ant Wine will flow like water. It should be quite an event! saturday Yesterday Wilson saw a poster advertising a Psychic Medium. He was very interested in the concept, and last night he asked me whether it’s genuine, as he’d like to speak with his Great Great […] Grandfather, Alberto Victor Gutiérrez-López. I explained to him why I think psychic mediumship is not a genuine phenomenon but merely a clever con trick… and how I think it’s done. Far from being disappointed that he can’t speak to his ancestor, W is delighted, as he’s sure this is something he can do. Wilson Vermilingua The Psychic Anteater. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
Sunday Last night, Wilson held his Red Carpet Premiere for Titanic: The Film. All of Uckfield’s glitterati were in attendance: The Mayor, Antony, a rather ill-mannered reporter from the Uckfield Examiner (who complained constantly and loudly about the refreshments) and some curious onlookers. W told me that James Cameron had sent his apologies (although that seems a little unlikely) and Downing Street had asked why David Cameron hadn’t received an invitation. I’m sorry there wasn’t time to invite you, but it had perforce to be a last-minute arrangement before the management of The Picture House got wind of it.
As promised, generous portions of ant-based snacks and Ant Wine were provided, and W signed a lot of autographs for the hospital A&E nurses and doctors as he kindly accompanied some of the guests to the hospital while they had their stomachs pumped.
monday Wilson is a bit down today. He hasn’t heard back from any of the Hollywood Executives to which he’d offered Titanic: The Film, and he’s admitted that it will have to be a straight-to-DVD release. Henceforth, he told me, it will be known as Titanic: The Film: The DVD. Right now he’s busy with his box of crayons designing a disk label and case wrapper for it. It’s not long until his birthday, though - I hope that gives him something to look forward to and will cheer him up! tuesday Wilson has decided that the way forward is Psychic Mediumship, and has ordered some books about Cold Reading from Amazon. Once he’s read them he plans to take his Psychic Roadshow on tour. He has never seen any of the Star Wars movies, but the current Vodafone TV ads show Yoda, and W thinks that Yoda’s speech patterns would strike the right note of inscrutability to his so-called psychic communications from beyond the grave. To this end, he practices it constantly to make himself fluent. Annoying it is, very. Stop it, make him I must. Myself, doing it I am, D’oh!
wednesday Wilson has just given me a psychic reading. He drew the curtains and sat me in the now semi-darkened living room, welcomed me to the séance then started pacing up and down. ‘I’m getting an “S”’ he said. ‘Does that mean anything to anyone here? Anyone in this [gesturing towards me] part of the room? Anyone at all?’ He fixed me with a penetrating stare, and reluctantly I raised my hand and said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Your supposed to jump up shout, “Yes, it’s my dad!” New Dad - that’s how cold reading works!’ he admonished me, testily. ‘You already know it’s my dad. You know everything about him. We’ve talked about him,’ I objected. ‘Well he has a message for you,’ W continued, unfazed. ‘He says he is very happy on the other side. Okay, now I’m getting a “T”. Anyone?’ This puzzled me. I don’t know anyone starting with a T, so I kept my hand firmly down and said nothing. W then went down onto all fours, waved his tail in the air and started speaking in a funny voice. At first he miaowed like a cat, then in a squeaky tone he said, ‘I apologise for the incident with the goldfish.’ Then he straightened up and staggered around for a bit looking dazed, before asking me, ‘What happened? Did I say anything?’
‘You crawled on the floor and made cat noises’ I told him. ‘Ah, my Spirit Guide tells me that I was possessed by your first cat, Timmy. He is very happy in the Spirit Realm, and there are plenty of mice. Please don’t worry about him.’ I assured W that I would definitely not worry about the long-dead Timmy. I really can’t see people paying good money to watch this tosh, but W is confident. As always. And I have to admit… he’s no worse than Derek Acorah! thursday Wilson has spent the whole day so far practicing and developing his ‘gift’ by giving Antony numerous Psychic Readings. He’s told him about his previous lives and predicted great things for his future. Poor Antony his little kapokfilled head must be spinning!
FRIDAY - Wilson’s Birthday! Up shortly before dawn, woken by a very excited Wilson! His presents included a stripey top, two robot construction kits and a toy electric car. He’s wearing his top now, and playing with his car; he’s decided to leave the robot kits until he’s a bit less overexcited, lest he lose some of the parts. He received birthday cards from his family (I’d written to Mrs Vermilingua telling her the date of Boo’s Official Birthday) … and from the secret admirer who previously sent W a Valentine’s Day card. Inside this mysterious card, the writer said that she’d really enjoyed the Titanic: The Film red-carpet premier - who can she be? Tea was a quiet affair attended by Birthday Boy Wilson, Diesel the Goldfish, Antony the Toy Anteater and me.
After tea, I took Wilson to see a production of Oliver! This was the first time he’d been to any kind of live theatre, and he was completely caught up in the performance. At one point he tried to join the cast on stage and I had to restrain him. Once he’d picked up the tunes he sat in his seat clapping his paws in time and singing along, which did draw one or two disapproving glances. But so what - it was his birthday! In this picture you can just make out Wilson fighting through the theatre crowds to buy ice creams during the interval. Naturally there were no ant-flavour ice creams, but he whispered to me that it didn’t matter because he’d brought his own ants to sprinkle on. Some of these escaped and caused a measure of discomfort to the woman sitting next to W, but we both pretended not to notice and I think we got away with it. After the performance, W got to meet Miss Julia the choreographer, ending what was altogether a very exciting day. W sang ‘That’s Your Funeral’ and ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ all the way home in the car. ALL the way home.
saturday The next morning we set off early for phase two of Wilson’s Birthday Treat - a holiday in Devon! The weather wasn’t great, and it was a long drive. W slept for much of the journey, but I did hear quite a lot of the phrase every parent dreads: ‘Are We There Yet?’’ sunday Here you see us arriving at our hotel. We have a lovely room, and there is a large garden where guests can sit in the evening with a drink. Wilson assures me that this has great ant potential. As soon as W has had a brief nap we’re heading off to paint Torquay red!
monday As soon as he had woken and recovered from his nap, Wilson and I headed into Torquay for some Fine Dining. After the long journey I thought a light meal would be best, but W insisted that ice cream was the preeminent antidote for travel fatigue. At the first ice cream parlour we came to, W showed me which one he’d like. tuesday Inevitably, we ended up in an amusement arcade. As well as the modern video games and penny-pushers, there were some vintage machines, and I had a reading by a mechanical fortune-teller. A little card popped out telling me that I was well balanced, happy-go-lucky and popular wherever I go. I was very pleased with this but Wilson, being a bit of an expert on the psychic readings game, was sceptical of the result, telling me that there were basic errors in the Cold Reading algorithms of the machine, and that one only had to look at me to see that I was a born worrier and I’d never be popular wherever I went. ‘I’m sorry, New Dad, but sometimes I have to be cruel to be kind!’
W had a go himself, and his card said that he was cute, cuddly and loveable, enthusiastic and shrewd, a born leader and businessman. He told me that this was a fair and unbiased assessment of his character, and maybe the machine had started working properly by the time he put his 20p in. On the way out, W complained to the lady in the Change Kiosk that the instructions on the Automatic Palmistry machine should be changed to read “Hold hand or paw firmly down…” She narrowed her eyes and told W, ‘Dogs aren’t allowed in the arcade.’ wednesday Yesterday we journeyed from Paignton to Kingswear by steam train. In the photo you can see that W bagged pole position in the Observation Car, hoping to pretend to drive the train. The train pulled out backwards, so he just pretended to reverse it all the way to Kingswear! Then on to Dartmouth via passenger ferry. Wilson is a nervous sailor (his New Year Resolution about learning to swim still being unfulfilled) and insisted on donning a life jacket before he’d even set foot on the gangplank.
thursday We’ve just got back to the hotel after visiting Kent’s Cavern, then on to the Model Village in nearby Babbacombe. Wilson was a bit apprehensive in the dark caves, keeping very close to me throughout the tour, but he really loved the model village. He went round pretending to be a giant, and I had quite a hard time keeping him off the grass. Friday Wow - Wilson certainly knows how to holiday! We’ve packed a fortnight’s activities into just a few days and I’m exhausted; W, on the other hand, fortified by frequent naps and a diet consisting almost exclusively of ants and ice cream, is as fresh as a daisy. saturday Tonight we’ll be watching the Eurovision Song Contest (W has drawn up his complex score-card and brought it with him) then it will be time to return home…
sunday Last night we watched Eurovision on the communal tv in the hotel lounge. Surprisingly, we were the only people watching it. Wilson held his head in his paws through most of Englebert’s performance, then came out strongly for Romania, declaring it a shoe-in… though he did think the Russian Grannies were quite funny. By the time the voting started he was fuming about Eastern Bloc countries voting for each other... but I suppose that’s the thing about a bloc. He was truly shocked when Sweden won, as he was still sure Romania could pull back almost until the last minute. Also, he wants a hat like the Danish singer wore. Whatever, we’ve had a lovely time in Devon, but tomorrow we must head for home.
monday We’ve just arrived back home from Devon. Wilson was very sad to leave, though I have to admit I’ll be happy to sleep in my own bed tonight. We brought a lot of clotted cream and scones home with us, and W has promised to make his speciality Devonshire Clotted Cream Tea With Ant Jam tomorrow. tuesday As promised, Wilson has just served up a Traditional Devonshire Clotted Cream Tea With Ant Jam, made to his mum Mrs Vermilingua’s secret recipe. He said that it was her ‘signature dish’. However, I’ve just seen how the Ant Jam is made: W stands an open pot of strawberry jam in the middle of the lawn and waits until some ants discover it. Once thousands of ants have crowded into the jar, he screws the lid on and shakes it vigorously until it stops moving about on its own. W was so proud of his jam that I felt I had to eat a little of it… but I think he might suspect I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I said I did. Maybe my body language gave me away - the Gag reflex is a difficult one to stifle...
wednesday Wilson is very busy in the shed preparing the Wilson Vermilingua OBE Museum Of Old Stuff, so it has been left to me to work in the garden removing the weeds that have sprung up while we were away in Devon. I was getting on with this when I was cruelly subjected to an almost unprovoked attack by thousands of ants, crawling all over me and stinging quite painfully. I called out to W to come immediately to my aid. He called back, ‘I’m a bit busy at the moment - try to save some for me’. I shall have to try to find a tactful way of reminding him why he came to live with me in the first place. thursday I mentioned the Ant Problem to Wilson last night. He apologised for the 45 minute delay in rescuing me from the ants and offered to rub on some of the antihistamine cream I got from my doctor following the attack. He did giggle over the word ant-ihistamine, though, which I thought rather devalued his apology. This morning, though, he outlined his ambitious new plan to rid the garden of ants: Britain’s Got Ants - a talent show for ants. He proposes to put up tiny posters all over the garden advertising the event, then hold auditions on a miniature stage he’ll set up near the Museum of Old Stuff. ‘The most talented ants’ he explained, ‘will be put in a box and sent off to Simon Cowell.’ I asked whether Simon Cowell knew about this, or whether receiving a box of live ants through the post would come as a surprise to him. ‘I’ll give him a call in a minute to arrange a contract and royalties,’ W replied. So much for the talented ants, but what about the inept, dumb ants? ‘Oh I’ll eat those, naturally!’ W assured me.