4 December 2000
"Of course, you won't know about Thunderbirds," Deminimus said to the Lawyer a couple of weeks ago, on a rare Saturday afternoon when the family was all together. "Actually, I was there first time round," said the Lawyer. Deminimus later came up to me with a worried expression and asked: "Just how old is Daddy?"
Subjudice has hitherto delighted in tormenting her brother by shrieking: "I can see the strings!" whenever one of the Tracy family bounces across the screen, but now Deminimus has an ally in his father they can repel all borders and make the living room a little corner of Tracy Island for most of the weekend.
It's quite charming to see the Lawyer propelling his son into the stratosphere as Thunderbird 1, or to watch Deminimus pretend to be the Mole and screw his way into the innermost recesses of the sofa, where he found my reading glasses and was rewarded with a Fab ice lolly of honour. Saving the world can take them most of Saturday afternoon and a good chunk of Sunday, and the women in the family are beginning to feel a bit left out.
The most elaborate scenarios involve Liability sitting at the top of the stairs and pretending to be John, marooned in space in Thunderbird 5 (such a lonely place to be, I always thought), and waiting to be rescued by Scott and Virgil in some little pod launched from the hallway, knocking over all of the pot plants standing in for the palm trees on the launch pad.
For me, the Thunderbirds craze has been rather like meeting an old flame after many years, for I always had rather a crush on Virgil as a child, and it turns out that the Lawyer looks eerily like him, although he's probably not as practical. I always felt Virgil would be just as good at changing light bulbs as rescuing nations from disaster, and my husband, alas, shows no inclination to do either. He also said that my tummy, after three children, reminded him somewhat of Thunderbird 2, which was somewhat hurtful - I think they keep Thunderbird 4 in there, which is a rather unsettling thought.
My role in the whole thing, as in most games we play, is that of the patient Filipino housekeeper, always coming in after the excitement is over with cups of tea and juice, and expected to laugh at the corny joke which ends each episode. I'd quite like to be Lady Penelope, but Subjudice seems to have snaffled the part, and has insisted on a new pastel-pink twin-set to do justice to it. She wafts round the house goggling her eyes and saying: "Parker!" like a late-period Mrs Thatcher. I'm sure I'd do it better.
But I fear that it's getting out of hand. The Lawyer's secretary tells me he was caught humming the theme tune (dum da da daah, da da dum dum dum da da da dum daah) at a department meeting, and actually said "Fab" when they asked him to take on some new project. Something embarrassing happened at a client meeting recently, and although I can't get the Lawyer to own up to it, I've heard rumours from his colleagues that he actually said: "We'll get Brains on the job right away." Most of the clients looked at him as if he was mad, although apparently one or two seemed rather relieved that Brains was on the payroll, which I find even more worrying. What is it about a bunch of puppets on strings that inspires more confidence than the finest legal minds in the business?