Mac was beside himself with excitement about the impending visit to the zoo and woke us at 5am on Saturday by screeching “am all washed mummy” in my left ear. Whilst congratulating him for being a big boy and having washed himself, I drew attention to the fact that he should never have a bath on his own because he might actually drown. “I didn’t have a bath mummy, I had a showrer”. This was confirmed by David who, once woken needed the loo, sloshed his way to and from the bathroom. “Next time, close the shower door” he mumbled as he fell into deep slumbers once again. I wasn’t so lucky and had to talk through all the “aminals” we were going to see at the zoo. My child has clearly missed me because he said last night “I don’t mind you going out mummy but not for so long.” By the time 6 o’clock came around I was wide awake and Mac was asleep across my pillow like a human bolster. I did try to get back to sleep but failed miserably as a few worries ran through my brain.
The dogs, also sulking because of my continued and lengthy absences were absolute angels at the park, which led me into a false sense of security for, when we got back home, all three took off down the road after Marmalade Tom (the Catfather of The Avenue who taunts them by waving his plumy tail at them). By the time they’d come “to heel” I was hoarse of voice and short on air.
Still, a lovely family day out. David was in charge of Marisa once again and we drove to the Zoo, meeting Matt and Lydia there. Charlie agreed to meet us at the Thames Barrier after lunch and also promised not to have watched Flood the night before.
Don was wearing a fetching Hawaiian shirt that caused Matt to drop his phone when he first saw him bounding towards the entrance. “Oh my God!” he hissed to Lydia who nudged him so hard in the ribs he yelped in pain. “Are you okay honey?” Lorna asked before being dragged off to see the “grillas” by Mac. The tigers, lions, bears and hippos went down well with the assorted company but only the boys wanted to see the reptiles and the insects. Dad came out with cupped hands and threw “a spider” at us. Naturally, Lorna, Lydia and I screamed the place down and ran amok, much to amusement of a group of children and their Scandinavian au pairs. We met the monkeys too although Lydia stayed outside “watching the bags” as “anything that can hang by its tail frightens the crap out of me”. It’s billed as an “African safari in the middle of London” – the monkeys certainly do get a bit inquisitive.
I mooched around the penguins long enough to cause the others to moan about my obsession with our flippered friends. Can I help it if I find them too cute for words? One tiny penguin decided he quite liked me and went into a dance routine that had me making “aw!” noises. David led me away, patting my arm and murmuring “sssh, ssh” at me. My family tend to humour me a lot.
A quick bite to eat with Matthew querying what the hell we were doing eating at a zoo café which made Mac spit out his sandwich and refused to eat anything else in case it was made of “aminals mummy” – sometimes I could kill my Sort of Step Son.
The shop went down a bundle – Mac was given a two foot high stuffed giraffe by a very doting Don and Lorna and had to be dragged away from the puzzles. I dread to think what this trip has cost them – I haven’t paid for a thing. No, tell a lie, I bought a packet of Polos on Tuesday.
Dragging “Gordon the Drafft” back to the car we all squeezed in to begin our journey to the Thames Barrier – Lorna hanging out of the window taking “action shots” as we drove through the streets of London and Matthew wishing he’d joined Mac in throwing away his sandwich - “I do feel bilious”.
We arrived at the Barrier with just over an hour before it closed – Charlie had been there for half an hour and had already “pulled one of the security guards”.
It does such an important job and is so impressive – it’s quite frightening to think of what it will prevent. “Without the Barrier, in the event of a flood, Deptford and Lewisham would be under water” Charlie read from a noticeboard before confirming that the areas surrounding Deptford and Lewisham would also be under water with a fair amount of surprise in her voice. “Well, why didn’t they just say if it all goes tits up it’s Goodnight Vienna” she hissed.
Guilt presents: none, they were all with me. And nobody got my dropped hints about buying me a stuffed penguin. And I dropped enough.