I’ve had a pig of a day. Seriously. A huge grizzly, oinking pig of a day. PMT has something to do with it, but not entirely. Saskia calls this particular mood swing OPMT - “Other People Mean Tension”. But it’s funny how something good can come out of something so awful. It all started this morning, as most days do, funnily enough.
I had Mac half dressed in the bathroom when the doorbell rang. I threw his trousers at him and said “right way round this time” and shot downstairs, falling over both Senior and Junior Dog who were woofing excitedly in the hall. I threw open the door only to see Royal Mail Delivery Driver getting back into his jaunty red van. As I was expecting a delivery (don’t you just love Lakeland?) I ran out down the path, waving my arms and yelling. Royal Mail Delivery Driver wound down window and asked me what I wanted “You’ve got a parcel for me, you rang at number 20!” I puffed, suddenly wondering if I was appropriately dressed to greet strangers. I was * but do you ever get that feeling that you’re not properly attired when you should be? No? Oh, just me then.
Anyway, Royal Mail Deliver Driver shrugged his shoulders expressively and said “Too late, taking it back to the depot now, left you a card”. “But I’m here!” I shrieked, jumping up and down on the spot as if to prove it “Not six foot away from you!”. He shrugged again “Too late love, sorry” he said before wheelspinning down the road. I called him a few choice names and stomped back up the path to find Junior Dog chewing on the card telling me where and when to arrange either collection or re-delivery of my item. The box marked “we tried to deliver, you were out” was ticked.
Mac appeared, trousers on the right way round but no T-shirt under his checked shirt. I sent him back upstairs and rang the depot. After listening to appalling tinny music for two minutes, Cheerful South Londoner answered and listened to my plight. He was sympathetic, I’ll give him that. “He’s aht on his rahnds love, can’t do a fing abaht it until he gets back.”. I clenched my jaw and told him that I’d shown myself up in front of the neighbours pleading with him to deliver my sodding parcel. “Ah, he should’ve delivered it love” he commiserated. I asked, quite pleasantly I thought, if he could bring it back to me today. “Ah, no love y’see, it’s policy see? We tried to deliver and you weren’t there”. I inhaled deeply “But I’ve just told you I was, he saw me, we had a conversation, he just didn’t want to get off his bottom (I didn’t say “bottom”) and get the bloody parcel out of the back of the bloody van! Too much of a bloody hurry to get back for his full English I should imagine.”
This clearly angered Cheerful South Londoner who went very frosty on me, informing me that I could either have it re-delivered on Monday or could come and collect it tomorrow. He also reminded me that all calls “to this depot are recorded for security an’ training purposes”. “Good” I hissed “perhaps when your supervisors hear this particular call they’ll realise what bloody idiots they employ!”. Cheerful South Londonder remained frosty and asked me what option I was going for, re-delivery or collection. As I wasn’t given the option of casting Cheerful South Londoner and Royal Mail Delivery Driver adrift on a desert island, I went for collection on Saturday. Jabbing at the off button and muttering about “if you want something done properly, do it yourself” I was faced with yet more proof by my son who had put his T-shirt on over his checked shirt.
Child suitably attired, we set off for nursery. I’d planned to walk but, of course, was running late so we clambered into Marissa and drove off. I tend to use the Meriva rather than my own car whenever I can. One of these days, I’ll learn. Nunhead Lane gets very busy first thing during week day mornings * shops have deliveries, the P12s seem to run every two minutes (unless I want one, then you don’t see them for love nor money) and I was stuck behind said P12 and hindered by one coming the other way. And there we sat for five minutes, the bus in front of me unable to move thanks to the gigantic lorry delivering to the sweet shop, the bus coming the other way was at a funny angle and couldn’t get past. There was lots of hooting.
Mac has inherited my fear of being late. I’d rather be an hour early than five minutes late for anything. “Mummy, will I miss biscuits?” came the querulous voice behind me. The dashboard clock was showing 8.50am. To attempt a three point turn I need a lot of space but sod it, I was in a mood. Sticking on the hazards, I petrified the bloke behind me in a brand new BMW and the bus driver who had just started to inch his way forward. “After me you’re first!” I snarled as I threw (David’s) car into a five point turn and shot off, turning left, right and bouncing over the speed bumps.
We reached the nursery at two minutes to nine. The playground was empty as Mac and I sprinted towards his classroom * luckily I managed to deposit him on the end of the stragglers and prayed it looked like he’d been there all along. “Bye my biscuit baby.” I said as I watched my boy rush over to the refreshment table. Mac has also inherited my love of digestives.
I slouched out of the school and back over to the car. Putting on my seat belt and trying to breathe normally I looked in the passenger side wing mirror only to find it wasn’t there. The casing was but the reflective bit, the bit I actually need, was nowhere to be found. It was amongst the leaves on the floor, with a plastic case. Terrific. I found myself asking “can this day get any worse?”
I should know by now not to tempt fate.
The light on the answer phone was twinkling brightly on my return, I set it to play while I looked more closely at the (cracked) mirror and plastic casing, trying to sort it out before David finds out I have violated his precious car. “You. Have. One. Message” said the disembodied electronic voice. “It’s Amelia. You know I don’t like these things. Where are you? Anyway. Mrs Casey’s son is picking her up at 9am to take her to his house for the weekend. He lives in Blackheath. So I’m coming with them and will be with you by at 11am. I want to make sure that you’re all okay after, shall we say, recent events.”
The dogs joined me on the floor.
Still on the deck, I rang David to ‘fess up about the wing mirror and to tell him his mother was descending to see that a) we weren’t living on a diet of saturated fat and salt and b) we hadn’t gone over to the dark side. I told him about the wing mirror and I heard his teeth begin to gnash. But my cunning plan worked. Once I’d told him about Amelia, all thoughts of wing mirrors went from his mind. Plan A was put into place “I’ll be home as soon as I can” he promised me, the standard plan when his mother descends when I’m alone in the house.
She arrived at half past eleven, chuntering about road rage, traffic jams and “inconsiderate London drivers”. “Where’s the boy?” she said, looking round the room as if I were hiding him in a cupboard. All three dogs had scooted upstairs, no doubt to sit on her (unmade) bed, the minute she crossed the threshold with her ginormous case. I resisted the urge to ask her long she were staying, but only just. “Nursery!” she huffed when I told her where her precious grandson was. “David and Virginia didn’t go to nursery, they spent time at home with me, their mother. The time comes soon enough when they have to be apart from you, when they go to school.” She pooh-poohed my protestations that it’s good for Mac to be at nursery, it’s where he learns most of his social skills and I pointed out that he’s a very good mixer and extremely popular. “Like his mother” she sniffed “talks to anyone and anything.” She didn’t make it sound as if this were a good skill to have.
My plans for dinner were rubbished (“Chicken? Again? Can’t you cook anything else?”). She wasn’t happy that we were going out to Bea’s Bonfire Bash on Saturday (“What about me? I’m not staying here in the house on my own with the dogs and I don’t like fireworks, dreadful noisy things”). And she was so not impressed that the wing mirror was broken (“Honestly, you can’t be trusted with anything can you, I hope you’ve told him it was your fault.”)
David arrived at ten to three to find his mother worrying that we were going to be late to pick Mac up at half past three if we “didn’t get a move on and don’t expect me to be driven anywhere by you”, his wife with a trembling bottom lip and trying not to shout and swear and his three dogs lined up in the hallway looked extremely downcast. Within minutes she had laid open her concerns and doubts.
If I’ve ever felt that I’d been “told on” it was today. We were still in the hall as she raged about my unimaginative choices of meal, my selfishness and my inability to cope, and oh, “she’s broken your car”. David moved us into the kitchen and began mediation.
Chicken is fine for dinner, he said, we all like chicken but if you don’t want it then we’ll find something else for you to have but you must realise that you’re in our house and so can’t have everything your own way. Tomorrow night the dogs are being looked after by Jack Next Door, he continued, who would be perusing our DVD collection and would no doubt be delighted if she were to stay behind to watch television with him. He added that she invited herself this weekend and so could not expect us to change our plans. He wasn’t finished yet. “My car isn’t broken, these things happen and as for coping, well, she copes admirably with everything that is thrown at her. Including last minute guests.”.
I was, by now, awash with tears and felt something akin to hero worship as I stared at him. It wasn’t the first time he’d defended me to his mother (“stuck up for you” as Lydia once described it) but it was the first time he’d done it in front of me and with such eloquence.
Naturally, Amelia had a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp but was remarkably sheepish and even managed a sort of apology. Needless to say I was more gobsmacked with that than anything else. By that time I was late for picking Mac up so I shot out of the house. We got back to find a cup of tea steaming on “my” table, and the promise of fish and chips (paid for by Amelia) for dinner and the offer of “anything I can do to help you and Bea out tomorrow, you only have to ask” ringing in my ears.
And they say that miracles don’t happen!