It started with a toy microwave oven (or fan oven as I prefer to call it), which I found at a car-boot sale a few weeks ago. At first, Betty was a little confused about what it was, having never seen one before (ahem), but now she is pretty au fait with its workings, and loves the thing.
I decided that a lone toy microwave sitting on a shelf in the kitchen, looked a little trashy, and didn’t help the organic and wholesome illusion I was trying to create. I have therefore slowly been adding to the shelf, the odd empty organic muesli box here, a slice of plastic chorizo there, to disguise it, and to create more fun for Betty of course. Betty, however, seems pretty insistent on just microwaving stones from the garden at the moment, and once they have been pretend-zapped, they then invariably end up in the washing machine and go through an unwitting wash cycle (perhaps her attempt to out-do Makka Pakka), which then leads to the electrician being called out.
Because of my slightly obsessive nature, Betty now has her own fully functional, fully equipped café in our kitchen, with the microwave being centre stage. At some point yesterday I got the idea in my head, which escalated and got totally out of control, and so I got my mum to come over and play with Betty whilst I spent three hours creating a masterpiece.
I had to rearrange our kitchen furniture, remove all of Tom’s cookery books (luckily there was enough space for mine to stay), and donate a lot of our own kitchen utensils and pans in order to accommodate and kit out Betty’s new establishment. I set the main part of the café up on the windowsill, which is quite large and (almost) the right height for Betty. I nailed a little blackboard to one side of the window with ‘Today’s Specials’ and on the other side I put a personalised café sign, together with various pictures of food that the café sells.
I hung a little apron on a hook next to the chopping board with a courgette on it, and placed some asparagus in a saucepan on a pretend hob I had painted. I made some bunting to go across the window, and got Tom to make some fitted shelving to run along the back of the window.
I was so unbelievably thrilled with my creation and couldn’t wait to unveil it to the proprietor, Betty Button. Betty was also pretty delighted when presented with my handiwork. Not so much for the fact that she had her very own café, but because half the kitchen, that was previously out of reach and mostly forbidden, was suddenly there on a plate for her. And she had a great time.
In fact, she has got so into the whole thing, she has opened branches of her café all over the house. And no sooner have I collected everything up when her back is turned, and put it back to where it should be, all neatly arranged, she is back again to dismantle it. I console myself with the fact that when she goes to bed I can play with it and do it my way.
Last night, as Tom and I were watching Big Brother, I murmured something to him about having to get a little cookery book to go in Betty’s café. Tom turned to me, with a very serious, and slightly perturbed looked on his face, and said: ‘Betty’s café? or Elsie’s café?’ Then, just as he was drifting off to sleep, he dreamily said: ‘I hope Betty is going to start serving lattes soon.’