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        The baby grabs my nose and I go "boink boink" like I did with my son many years ago. The baby giggles and grabs my whiskers. I go "ouch ouch" and I'm not kidding. The baby giggles and the kids laugh. One of them hands me Pig-wig. He has no nappy and I'm wary. 

        I ask about Midi, the wife. "Upstairs ironing," Titoy says. I take my note book and beer upstairs and sit at the end of a pedal operated sewing machine. Midi is in the next room using a heavy metal iron heated by coconut charcoal. She says it burns slowly. The windows are open and there is a faint sea breeze that doesn't quite get rid of the smoke. I rub my eyes and start writing.  

        The eldest boy comes up with another beer and a couple of barbecue sticks. I continue writing. Then someone calls that dinner is ready. 

        Downstairs the table seats seven so the kids take turns. No particular pecking order - those that are hungry get in first, the rest wait. Midi is still upstairs ironing. Titoy sits at the head of the table. I sit at his right. He grabs a fistful of rice and dumps it on his plate. Then another. Not all of it makes the trip and the table is soon littered with rice. Pieces of fried chicken join the rice and it's fingers from then on.  

        The kids hoe in. Some use fingers, others a fork or a spoon. All eat with mouths open; talk with mouths full. The noise is like a suction pump with leaky valves. I stare hard at my plate and try not to look up. A kid takes his plate to the TV room. Another kid takes his place. 

        The food is basic: plain rice, fried chicken overcooked and dry, and some very tasty kilawin-marinated raw fish chopped and mixed with onions, ginger, lemon, and coconut milk. Titoy gets me another beer. The baby crawls to the table. He still has no nappy. Titoy picks him up and holds him over the table. I hope the kid isn't loaded. I eat slowly and am last to finish. One of the kids has already started with the dishes. 
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