A little girl sat opposite me on the tube this morning, with her older brother, mother and father. As soon as they had sat down the mother had given her son some sort of tablet on which he proceeds to play games. This also entertains her daughter for a few minutes; she watches her brother intently as he battles bad guys in the virtual world he holds in his hands. But she soon gets bored.
She starts to fidget, climbs down off her chair and starts to wander around the carriage. Mum reaches into the backpack on her husband’s back and it emerges clutching a half-empty packet of custard creams. The girl – clearly not one to mistake the distinctive rustling sound of a biscuit packet for something not worthy of her attention – quickly pulls herself back up on to the chair and does a well-practiced and near perfect impression of a little angel. Her reward is dutifully delivered and the whole carriage can sense the anticipation in the girl’s eyes.
Taking great care not to break either one she encourages the two biscuits to part and reveal the creamy goodness inside. Gently increasing the pressure she gradually overpowers the resistant force of the gooey substance until finally the two halves escape each other’s grip.
But disaster! The cream has also split. Both biscuits have retained a roughly equal share.
The enthusiasm drains from the little girls excited face with a sense of extreme reluctance as if it were golden syrup falling from a spoon. When she’s sufficiently over the shock of what just happened she tries pushing the two halves back together, sliding and twisting them in an attempt to rectify the situation, but upon separating the biscuits once more it’s clear it was all for nought.
She looks at the biscuits in her hands, seemingly unsure what to do now. She glances at her mother for some sort of help with the situation, but she’s embroiled in a conversation with Daddy, so the girls attention returns to her hands and the disastrous biscuits.
Her eyes jump from hand to hand, from biscuit to biscuit, for a few seconds, then with an almost imperceptible shrug she proceeds to lick the cream off the biscuit in her right hand. When that biscuit cream-free she does the same to the one in her left hand. Mere seconds later the biscuits have disappeared, she’s rubbed the crumbs off her hands and she’s back to watching her brother play his game.