Please note this is the text of a picture book for children. The breaks are roughly which text would go on which page.

It's Down the Toilet!

Of all the toys that weren't really toys, Hamish loved the toilet best of all. The washing machine was fun, but it only went clunk and made mum come running far too quickly. The cat argued too much and it hurt when it scratched, and not many things fitted down the plughole.

But the toilet…

Ahhhh! That was different.

He loved putting things into the toilet, pulling the long dangly chain and flushing them away. Socks were best. Broken crayons were almost as good, but not quite.

When no one was watching Hamish would creep to the bathroom, peel off one sock -only ever one, and always the left- and carefully drop it in. He loved the way the water spun and swirled. He loved the sound it made as it whooshed and gurgled away. Best of all he loved the way his socks curled and twisted like rainbow worms as they disappeared.

"Where do you think they go?" he asked big sister Susie.

Susie thought for a moment. "I think the alligators wear them," she told him.

"Alligators? Down the toilet?" Hamish asked, peering as hard as he could.

"Of course," Susie replied, "everyone knows that!"

Hamish sat on the edge of the bath, put his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands and thought hard about what else the alligators might like beside socks.

Mum's silk scarf was as red and gold and as soft as a feather. A Chinese dragon on a lead. It fluttered in Hamish's hand as he ran around the bedroom.

Hamish carried it to the bathroom, dropped it into the toilet… and… pulled the chain. The scarf swirled and whirled like a glowing snake as it vanished. Hamish wondered what Mum would say, but she had lots of scarves, and probably wouldn't miss it.

Mum's earrings were dangly and sparkly. They glinted in Hamish's hand as he held them up to the light. Two smooth ovals like melted wax from a silver candle.

Hamish carried them to the bathroom and dropped them into the toilet. Plop! Plop! He watched them settle on the bottom… and… pulled the chain. The earrings twisted and spun like jewelled crabs on a dancefloor as they vanished.

Hamish wondered what Mum would say, but she had lots of earrings and probably wouldn't miss them.

Mum's watch from the Big Birthday was smooth and cool with a strap of tiny metal links. The hands made a drum-beat tick-tick-ticking sound as they went round and round in his hand. Hamish carried it to the bathroom, dropped it into the toilet… and… pulled the chain. The watch bobbed and dipped like the scales of a silver fish as it vanished.

Hamish wondered what Mum would say because she only had one watch and might notice very soon that it was missing.

"Hamish, have you seen my scarf?" Mum asked the next morning.

"It's down the toilet," Hamish whispered.

"What about my earrings?" Mum asked sternly. She pulled her tell-me-the-truth-right-now face.

"They're down the toilet," Hamish mumbled.

"And where is my watch?" Mum asked, her eyebrows meeting like caterpillars on a crowded twig.

"It's down the toilet!" Hamish wailed.

Mum crossed her arms tightly and stared at Hamish with her scariest frown. Hamish's bottom lip began to wobble.

Mum sighed.

"We'd better get them back hadn't we. Go find the wellies."

Hamish found his green frog wellies and Mum's purple spotty ones. Mum rummaged in the kitchen drawer and found the torch. They both put on their raincoats and Mum pulled on the yellow rubber gloves from the kitchen sink.

Together they went to the bathroom. Mum picked Hamish up and held him in her arms. She stood on the bathroom stool and, still holding Hamish, climbed into the toilet. Mum and Hamish counted.

"One…two…three!"

And pulled the chain.

Round they swirled. Faster and faster until Hamish was dizzy, then before he knew what was happening they were sucked down. Down and up they went, round the u-bend and along the pipes.

It was the best ride ever! Much better than the water slide at the swimming pool.

With an enormous splosh Hamish and Mum shot out of the pipe and landed with a splash in a puddle.

Mum clicked on the torch and shone it around.

The walls were old and made of dark red brick but someone had drawn all over them with blue and green and purple crayons. Everywhere Hamish looked he could see pictures of fishes and people and socks and boats and alligators.

From far down the tunnel came a tick-tick-tick.

Mum held out her hand and Hamish took it, wiggling his fingers in between hers, just to make sure she wasn't scared. Hand in hand they sploshed along the tunnel through the puddles.

The tick-tick-tick echoed along the tunnel.

The water almost came over the top of Hamish's wellies.

The tick-tick-tick got louder as the tunnel got wider.

Finally Hamish and Mummy turned a corner and stopped in surprise.

They were standing in a huge room where lots of tunnels met. In the middle of the room was a puddle almost as big as the paddling pool in the park and lying in the puddle was a group of alligators. Each alligator was wearing one of Hamish's socks.

Some wore them on their back legs like socks were supposed to be worn but some wore them on their front legs like gloves. A few wore them on their ears and one very silly alligator had pulled his sock over his snout and couldn't open his mouth at all.

"Those are my socks!" cried Hamish. "I want them back!"

The alligators turned to face Hamish and rolled their big, yellow eyes around in their flat heads.

"What's the magic word?" Mum whispered in his ear.

"Please," Hamish added, and smiled showing all his teeth.

The alligators smiled too, showing all their teeth. Then they lined up in a straight line and one by one they took Hamish's socks from their front paws, back paws, ears and snout and dropped them into Hamish's hands. He quickly stuffed them in his pockets and up his sleeves in case they changed their minds.

"Right!" said mum. "Now, where are my things?"

The alligator who had put the sock over its snout pointed to the end of the room.

On a raised platform was a big old bath with a rolled over edge and four legs shaped like lion's feet. In the bath lay an alligator so large that its tail stuck over the end and reached down to the floor. Mum's earrings dangled from its ears. Mum's scarf was wrapped around its head like a turban Hamish had seen in a book. Mum's watch was around its tail.

The alligator folded its front paws on the edge of the bath and looked at Hamish and Mum with its big, yellow eyes.

"Those are my things you're wearing," Mum said. "I'd like them back please."

The alligator unfolded its arms very slowly and slid out of the bath. It sploshed across the floor to where Hamish and Mum were waiting. Very slowly the alligator took the watch from its tail and the earrings from its ears and dropped them into Mum's hand.

It started to unwrap the scarf from its head but as it did, a big tear fell from its yellow eye.

Mum looked at the alligator, then she looked at Hamish, then she looked at the alligator again.

"Oh, never mind," she sighed. "You can keep it. It looks better on you anyway."

The alligator grinned, showing all its teeth then it sploshed back through the puddle and into the big bathtub.

Something nudged Hamish on the leg and he looked down to find one of the other alligators staring at him with big, hopeful, yellow eyes.

"Muuuum, pleeesse?" asked Hamish.

"Oh, alright," sighed Mum. "We can always buy you some more."

Together Hamish and Mum helped the alligators put the socks back on their back paws, front paws and ears (though Mum said wearing a sock on a snout was far too silly and put it on the alligator's tail instead).

Hamish and Mum said goodbye and the alligators waved with sock covered paws. Hamish and Mum walked down their tunnel, with Hamish holding Mum's hand just to make sure she didn't get lost. When they got to the foot of the pipe Mum picked Hamish up in her arms and jumped and wriggled and squeezed and climbed back up the toilet pipe until they came out into their own bathroom. They stood in the shower and peeled off their raincoats and wellies and Mum's rubber gloves and washed their hands very well.

"Now! Promise me you won't put any more socks down the toilet. Or scarves, earrings or watches," Mum said.

Hamish nodded and promised.

Mum went downstairs to begin making tea but Hamish sat on the edge of the bath, put his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands. He stared at the toilet and wondered what the alligators were doing.

When he heard the sound of the egg whisk buzzing and he was sure Mum was busy, he snuck to his bedroom and opened his drawing box. He tiptoed back to the bathroom and, one by one, he flushed down all his red, orange and yellow crayons for the alligators to draw with.

Because, after all, he'd never promised not to do that.