‘I like rules,’ announced Mr Otter one day
‘Hmm?’ Mrs Otter was rather absorbed by her
breakfast and could only manage a vague sound of polite dismissal.
‘I like rules,’ repeated Mr Otter.
‘And I like bacon and eggs,’ Mrs Otter
gazed appreciatively at her rapidly diminishing plate.
‘No!’ exclaimed Mr Otter indignantly. ‘I
mean rules. Like grammar rules. You know, the building blocks of
society! The foundation of civilization! The laws that govern the universe!’
Mrs Otter isn’t sure that she cares for
grammar rules, or civilization. Or what Mr Otter likes or dislikes, for that
matter. Besides, it was rather arrogant for Mr Otter to be talking about
governing the universe when he was incapable of even frying an egg. So she
said, ‘That’s very sweet of you, dear. You should write a book about all these
wonderful, exciting ideas of yours one day.’
‘AHA!’ Mr Otter let out a scream of savage
triumph. ‘You mean exciting, wonderful ideas, don’t you? You
obviously don’t care about rules. Otherwise, you’d have been sensible enough to
put your short adjectives before your long ones!’
Mrs Otter thought that she didn’t care
about anything except that her husband was behaving like a thoroughly silly old
otter. Or an old, silly otter. Whatever. ‘Mr Otter, you’re being very silly.
Now get off your chair like a good boy,’ she said sharply.
But Mr Otter was all fired up and when
otters are all fired up, my lovely readers, they are a force to be reckoned
with. There was no stopping Mr Otter now. He ran to his bookshelf and tore open
book after book, just to prove his point about short and long adjectives. Or
long and short adjectives.
Mrs Otter couldn’t care less, for most of
those grammar books were pirated copies bought from some shady mall in Shenzhen
(10 RMB for three—such a bargain!). Mrs Otter couldn’t care less about long and
short adjectives either. She firmly believed that length only mattered when it
came to important things, such as the length of a sausage or a baguette or the
length of time you could spend at a buffet. Even then she wasn’t strict about
such things. A sausage, short or long, is always a good sausage as long as it’s
cooked decently. Didn’t Deng Xiaoping say something similar too? Anyway, it’s
all prejudice, she thought to herself. Why must short adjectives come first?
Why bully the long adjectives? It’s all so very disgraceful, thought Mrs Otter,
as she shook her head.
Meanwhile, Mr Otter was frothing at the
mouth from his grammar frenzy. Mrs Otter decided she should really do
something. Maybe she should tell him about some random fact. Yes, why not?
Everyone loves random facts! ‘Did you know,’ she proclaimed loudly, ‘Did you
know that the length of the minute hands on the Big Ben is 0.6 metres long?’
Mr Otter stepped dead in his tracks. He
turned round slowly, his face as pale as a ghost. ‘Did you say … 0.6 metres?’
Mrs Otter was thrilled that her distraction
worked. ‘That’s absolutely right, my dear!’