Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Hitting the Panic Button

I don’t often panic. I’m more your cool, calm and collected type to be honest. You know the sort, brushing off disasters with a disdainful sniff. But when I DO panic…….I really panic.

Take yesterday for example. I had taken Mackenzie for some shopping along Nunhead Lane. We went into the butchers for some lamb for dinner, along to the greengrocers for some “grapes please mummy”, into the chemist to drop off a prescription and into Ayres for a crusty cob and something scrummy. Mackenzie stood in front of me, eyes glued to the alarmingly sugar-filled cakes in the shapes of frogs, dogs and those mallow-cornet things that immediately take me back to age 14 whilst he ummed and aaahed between a lurid green frog (please don’t think my child eats huge amounts of sugar – it lasts him nearly a week) or one of those big chocolate chip cookies. I myself was eying the last crusty cob and was determined to be the one that wrestled it from the shelf before the rather large woman who was wearing a bright blue puffa jacket who was moving up on my right hand side in a way that would surely attract the attention of the shop assistant skulking by the coffee machine. Thankfully, another shop assistant saw my plight and ducked neatly out of the way of a huge rack of hot sausage rolls to serve me. “That crusty cob please” I said triumphantly and looked down at my pride and my boy to see if he’d made up his mind. He wasn’t there.

My heart leapt into my mouth and my stomach came up to join it. He had gone, slipped out when I was too busy salivating over bread to watch him. I whirled round, eyes frantically searching for him in the crowded shop. I couldn’t see him.

Ayres isn’t the hugest shop in the world but it gets very busy. The doors also lead onto a quiet little road that in turn lead onto what is known locally as a “bugger of a road to cross”. This, and other thoughts of a child snatching nature, were running through my mind when I caught sight of his jaunty red denim jacket. My feet couldn’t move but I was so sure it was him, the other side of the shop (we’re talking about 15 foot here) eyeing up the gateaux whilst jabbering away quite happily with the large woman in the blue puffa. Finally, all thoughts of crusty cobs forgotten, I was galvanised into action.

I didn’t quite grab him to my bosom and weep uncontrollably with joy whilst glaring at said woman and accuse her of abducting my child but it was all clearly written all over my face. “What are you doing?” I asked her but, on seeing the look of shock on her face (actually, she didn’t look quite so large up close, it must have been the size of her jacket), I hastily directed my question to Mackenzie who was picking up on my vibes and trying to climb up my legs. “Looking at the big cakes” he said, at the same time she said “Telling him I was buying the chocolate cake for my son’s birthday party”.

I gathered my thoughts and my composure, made a fatuous comment, muttered apologies and left – crusty cob forgotten.

I was so shaken on my way home, my lungs felt like I’d just run 10 miles without stopping, my heart was thudding in my ears and I was red hot. Mackenzie, however, was bemoaning the lack of cakes so I had to promise him an extra one the following day – I couldn’t go back there today.

I tell you - in that split second before I found him, all sorts of things were going through my mind. He was under a bus/car/knocked into the air by a speeding motorbike. He had been savaged by a dog. He’d been abducted by a disturbed mother/pervert/just plain weirdo. It was a mind numbing experience.

And that poor woman. Her only crime was to wear a bright blue puffa jacket.


dulwichmum said...

Poor you! What a dreadful experience. You should always carry an enormous handbag - just in case you need to clobber someone.......

Nunhead Mum of One said...

surely the clobbering of poor women in blue puffa jackets is everso slightly frowned upon in this, our goodnatured community?

All about me

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.