As we sat round our little table eating dinner together. In the hall. Next to the ironing board and a spare bit of coving. Remembering a time when we didn’t have to bail out our bath with a bucket because we still had a waste pipe, and a time when we didn’t share our bedroom with a desk chair, umbrella stand and a decorative but somewhat cumbersome obelisk.
It is a little mad undertaking building work, and our strange state of being at the moment is particularly enhanced by the addition of the Toddler who still requires regular nutritional input, restorative shut eye, and enough available space in which to swing a small broom at a Peppa Pig ball (our favourite activity of late). Fortunately she is taking ourtopsy turvy state of affairs infinitely in her stride, though we do find ourselves wondering to what extent she will remember this funny time in our lives…
As we post her out of the front window to avoid having to move the kitchen cupboard currently blocking the front door.
You see my earliest memory was at 18 months- Kate’s current age. I have somewhat unusual memories of my childhood, but like our daughter, I wasn’t born into the most conventional of families. Here are the top 10 most memorable incidents I was party to.
Notably, all involve my mother.
1) The time we visited a National Trust property in Kent, and as is normally the case, my Mum was enthusiastically reading the guide book aloud to my Dad and I (despite the fact we had our own copies). By the time we had completed our visit, we had picked up probably 20 or so Japanese tourists who thought we were the official tour, and our journey home was delayed considerably as we felt obliged to pose for souvenir photographs.
2) The time my Mum was forced to wear just her bathing suit on a trip to a French Aquarium after failing to remember her change of clothes following a dip in the swimming lake.
3) The time we were locked in a small shed at a confectionery factory in rural France and forced to watch how sugared almonds were manufactured in German, after my Mum’s attempt at the local dialect failed to both establish our nationality and the fact the owners were just about to go out for lunch. We finally managed to escape the shed to find the owners gone, and a small note wishing us a pleasant onward journey and hoping that we had enjoyed our visit.
4) The time when I was 5 and my Mum removed my brand new sandals whilst I was crabbing in Cornwall, just in case they were to fall off my feet and into the sea. On the removal of one shoe she stowed it in the front of her pac-a-mac, and was just reaching for my other foot, when the sandal left it’s stowage facility. And fell in the sea.
5) The time my Mum felt too embarrassed to explain to our dinner host that she disliked cheese immensely, so convinced me to wrap up her considerable wedge of blue stilton in a napkin and stow it in my rucksack for her. It was a hot and sticky summer evening, and we had been booked immediately onto a tour of a French Countess’ castle after dinner. I’m sure not one of the tour members did not question my personal hygiene.
6) The time my Mum was stuck in the ‘rapids’ of a local swimming pool, and too embarrassed to admit she could not swim against the artificial current created, was carried around in a figure of eight for 45 minutes. My friends and I were waiting for her at the pirate ship the entire time, and had no idea where she was!
7) The time we arrived at another one of Mum’s ‘introductions to culture’ on holiday, when she exclaimed how lucky we were not to have missed the shuttle bus (as a big bus bearing a picture of the attraction we had come to see arrived in the car park). She hurried us on to the bus, and began it’s descent down a very steep and winding road to the bottom of a very large hill. It was only once we had reached the bottom, that Dad had been given time to consult the map and had discovered we had in fact parked outside the attraction we had come to see, and had caught the shuttle bus back down to the town centre from where our journey had begun. It was a long walk back to the car. Which I seem to remember was largely carried out in silence.
8) The time we had to eat 34 horrible chocolate ice lollies because Mum didn’t properly understand the offer in the cheap Spanish supermarket, they wouldn’t all fit in our caravan ice box, and Dad’s constitution means nothing is allowed to be thrown away.
9) The time Mum walked with gusto to secure us a sunny table on the patio of a local pub, misjudged where the door actually stood, and instead walked into a large plate-glass window, subsequently falling into a large plant pot and squashing an unsuspecting Japonica. Much to the delight of all the lunch time patrons.
10) Another occasion when Mum fell in a huge muddy puddle prior to us dining with friends in a posh country pub. Suspecting the Maitre D wouldn’t allow her entry in her earthen state, she spent the entire time walking perpendicular to every wall so as to conceal her embarrassment. I suspect people thought Dad was her carer as the Maitre D spoke to us very clearly and concisely throughout the duration of our visit.
I feel no shame in writing this post as I suspect Kate may be writing a very similar one featuring me in 31 years time.
I hope so.
We purchased two very nice and enormously comfortable cream sofa’s from Sofa.com a few years ago.
I know, how you laugh, but we didn’t know about toddlers then.
Anyway, we had a small incident a few weeks back involving a misplaced glass and some red wine which resulted in some unwanted decoration of a sofa arm. Luckily Neil is the sort for forward thinking (and having had experience of me and my blunders), and had enrolled us into something quite marvellous called ‘Guardsman’ where they send someone out to clean, or in the scenario where a stain cannot be removed, replace the affected bit of sofa for you.
So yesterday I phoned what I believed to be ‘Guardsman Sofa Protection’. Sadly in my distracted state (The Peppa Pig episode had ended and was dealing with a fractious toddler) I had accidentally dialled the wrong number and ended up having a delightful, if somewhat confused chat with an elderly lady called Edna. Our call went something like this…
‘Hello, is this Guardsman Protection?’
‘Guardsman, I have a stain on my sofa and was wondering if I could claim on our policy?’
‘Who is this?’
‘Amy Ferguson, I bought a sofa from Sofa.com 2 years ago and took out a policy with you….have I got the wrong number? I think I do, I do apologise, I shall let you get on.’
‘I am Edna Bridge. The stain on my sofa.’
‘I have put my cushion over it.’
‘You can’t get someone to clean it you say?’
‘I apologise, the stain is on *my* sofa…’
<At this point I realise how terribly English I am>
‘…But I can recommend the fabric and upholstery stain remover that you can get from Sainsbury’s. it comes in a blue bottle and you just squirt it on. It’s very good. That might help.’
‘Ok dear. Thank you for calling.’
<And she puts the phone down>.
Now that is what I love about older people, they can accept that totally random strangers may just call them in the middle of the day and dispense stain cleaning advice without any question about the normality of this.
I just hope her stain comes out.
But at least I can rest well tonight in the knowledge that if it doesn’t, at least she has a cushion to put over it…
Why didn’t I think of that?
Well – it didn’t take long! Litres of neon yellow paracetemol laced lemony liquid, a dozen naps on the sofa interjected with the American Pie trilogy, a comforting dinner of pasta and sausages – and I’m feeling fit as a fiddle!
Just as well seeing as it was our Christmas Lunch in the Development Plans Team today – and in the true spirit of the festive season we became characters of the nativity – cast list as follows:
Star Of Bethlehem: Mr Jim Dunning (Boss)
Mary: Mrs Diane McGloin
Joseph: Mr Graham Ritchie
Shepard 1 : Miss Helen Smaldon
Shepard 2: Work Experince person Samantha
Reindeer: Mr Edward Rehill
King 1: Miss Amy Turner
King 2: Mrs Jane Ireland (Sadly missing from photo as she was walking her dog)
King 3: Ms Sue Griffin
Angel Gabriel: Mr Iain Lock
Angel 2: Miss Adeline Santos
Scared Onlooker in tinsel hard hat: Mr Lawrence Munyuki