The school run this morning was easier. On Tuesday we had tears, tantrums, claims of “You don’t love me mummy” (which really did a lot for the guilt levels) and massive sulks (according to Mr S about 90% of his class were in similar moods) all day. But Jessima, the sweet classroom assistant, informed me that he enjoyed his lessons and his shepherds pie for lunch. On Tuesday, Bea’s au pair Flavia picked him up and took him to school. Bea suggested it because “darling, if you’re stressed, then so is he”. The little turncoat skipped out of the door clutching his school bag and chirruping “Byeeee mummy!” as if he were auditioning for a cereal commercial. Flavia looked from him to me and gaped. She had obviously been told she would need to prise/bribe my child out of the door.
Today was calmer. I made no reference to the word “school” or conveyed any urgency whatsoever about getting there. I meandered over my Special K (is it me or is it really horrible?), sipped my tea thoughtfully and generally mooched whilst Mac ran around getting dressed (wrongly, but he tried), brushing both hair and teeth (he got that right) and finding (polished) shoes. “Erm, mummy?” he queried eventually. It was twenty to nine at this point. “Yes?” I replied, reaching casually for heat magazine. “Aren’t we going to school today?”
After I dropped him off I came home via Argos. We needed a new laundry basket (the previous one was made of wicker and has been slowly unravelling since October – I threw a T-shirt in there last night and the whole thing collapsed in a heap) and I got some Argos vouchers for Christmas and thought I’d take advantage of the sales.
Big mistake. It seemed that the entire population of Peckham was crammed into Rye Lane Argos. There were three people on the till and, when I joined the queue, there were fifteen people in front of me. I’d used “Ring and Reserve” to pre-order my items: laundry basket, kingsize duvet set and set of tea/coffee/sugar canisters. Don’t tell me I don’t know how to live the high life.
There was a woman in front of me who must have bathed in Obsession perfume. She made my eyes itch and I still have the sore throat. She knew one of the three people on the till and there was lots of eye contact going on between them both which made me feel uneasy for some reason. The lady behind me kept bumping into me as we shuffled along slowly. She looked as if she were in full possession of the basic faculties (sight and hearing) yet kept bumping into me so forcibly that I ended up with a close up view of Obsession Woman’s hair clip each time which, as you can imagine, went down like a cup of cold sick.
After the seventh time I turned round and gave her A Look. After the tenth time, I apologised for being in her way in such a sarcastic tone that the man in front of Obsession Woman got the giggles.
After twenty minutes of queuing I reached till number two and found myself in front of Devon. Devon didn’t speak but held out his hand for my order slip. “They’re all in stock” he informed me, as if I hadn’t “Rung and Reserved”. I did not give him the pithy answer I wanted to as I didn’t have the energy.
Nor did I have the energy to sit on a brightly colour chair (all bolted to the floor) and wait for the remarkably bright computerised voice to inform me that my “item number five-one-five-three is at the collection point”. Woman Behind Me came up and promptly sat next to me, disgorging the contents of her bag all over the floor as she did so. As she bent down to pick up her purse she all but headbutted me in the ribs. She had barely had chance to put everything back in her bag before her item number was called and collected. I gaped. People ahead of me in the queue had their items and were out of the door. People after me, ditto.
I sat and seethed for five minutes whilst the purple jumpered staff behind the collection points went into a flurry of packaging items and stamping receipts. It was then that I saw my three items, clustered together on the top shelf. Hah, any minute now!”
Three minutes later the computerised voice had not announced that I could go to the collection point. Well, I went anyway. “That’s mine, all three of those” I said, quite politely, to a neon pink taloned young lady with a stud through her bottom lip whilst pointing to my easily visible items. She gave me a cursory look and continued her conversation about paper cuts. “They’re mine” I said, leaning towards my items and smiling winningly to a beautifully coiffed young gentleman who was skittering about delivering items to various customers, all of whom were snapping and snarling and not saying thank you.
I took a deep breath. Apologised to my mother for what I was about to do. Winced everso slightly and snarled “Just give me the stuff I’ve paid for and I’ll leave you to it yeah?”.
At which point I had three assistants vying to put my items in bags for me, all of them poised to stamp my receipt. As if by magic my surly tones had summoned assistance – it’s not right though is it? It seems, unfortunately, that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
No wonder the chairs are bolted to the floor.