I know how to change Ming's age.
He showed me!
Under his skin, between his shoulder blades - is a dial.
Rub clockwise - he gets older.
Rub anti-clockwise - he grows younger.
Ming says humans have dials too.
He's seen parents rub the backs of their babies.
(That proves it?)
Martians are fascinated by humans. Humans seem only to grow older.
One of his missions is to learn whether this is because our dials don't function properly or whether we never think of rubbing in the opposite direction.
Diffidently, he asked if he might rub my back widdershins as an experiment.
I still am.
What if he creeps secretly from behind and rubs my dial?
Before I know it, I'll be three!
(Do left-handed people rub widdershins? I expect so. And the children of left-handed people grow older - don't they?)
AND NOW FOR - TODAY'S THRILLING INSTALMENT OF PLANTS OUTSIDE MY LIVING ROOM WINDOW!
Every spring, they rise valiantly from the ground.
Every spring. I show them to Robert, Ceres and Caddis.
"Look. These are plants," I say.
"I want them to grow," I say.
(Trying not to sound patronising.)
"Please don't tread on them!"
Robert, Caddis and Ceres smile.
And tread on them the next time they need an eighteen inch short-cut.
* * * * *
Caddis says she's not named after cherries - but a planet.