For someone who has spent almost the entire Christmas break reminiscing about the “fun” that he has at school, Mac is showing a distinct lack of interest about going back to school tomorrow. For the past fortnight, his conversation has been peppered with phrases such as “Oliver makes me laugh mummy” and “I eat my lunch with Jessica sometimes” and “I like Mr S, he is funny”. When we walked past the school the other day (when I encountered Dawn and her Thornton’s toffees – but that’s another paragraph) we had to stand outside so that we could peer through the gates to “see if anyone is there”. A patrol car slowed down and kept a beady eye on us so we moved along pretty sharpish I can tell you.
Yesterday, I asked him to find his school shoes so I could polish them. “Why?” he said, peering over his comic at me and looking just like his father. “So I can clean them for Tuesday” I replied. “Why?” he repeated. “So they’re clean for school” I said. He gave me a look as if to suggest that he didn’t want to go to school on Tuesday, much less in clean shoes.
This morning I woke him up at usual “school” time – half past seven which is half an hour earlier than he has been waking up. He burrowed down deeper into his bed, wailing. I’ve spent today bouncing around the house with faux bounciness exclaiming things like “wow, you’re so lucky to be back at school tomorrow” and “are you looking forward to seeing all of your friends?” in an attempt to buoy him up. It’s not working. He’s currently sitting on the sofa looking like a little old man who has just been told there are no more Werther’s Originals.
And talking of Werthers Originals and Thornton’s toffees foisted upon me outside school gates, I’ve been really good these last couple of days. No, seriously. I mean, obviously I haven’t been sticking rigidly to my low fat, low sugar, low carb, no caffeine, no fun whatsoever diet BUT I’ve stuck to a diet of sorts. Or should I say “eating plan”. Say the word “diet” to me and you can usually find me face down in an Ayres gateau ten minutes later. I’ve decided to eat sensibly and healthily AND on Friday walked round Sainsburys up and down the cake aisle twice and did not buy anything. Nothing in the sweet bakery section found itself in my trolley. I even surprised myself. And I didn’t do my usual trick of sitting in the car on the way home saying “Ooooh, I wish I’d bought that Danish/muffin/cookie/slab cake now”.
So I’ve had the odd packet of Quavers (they’re not crisps so they don’t count) and the occasional snifter of Roses (Marjorie dropped them round as a belated thank you for having them over Christmas) – I haven’t gone mad, that’s the point.
Unlike Jane Opposite who approached me this morning while I was sorting the bins out. She was wearing a full length leopardskin coat, furry hat and dark glasses. She looked like……well, I don’t know what she looked like. “You alright?” I asked her. Bill and Jane Opposite were suspiciously quiet over the festive period – there are normally a couple of rows that spill out into the street. Last Boxing Day Jane could be heard screeching at her girls “Well, I’m fed up with effing turkey an’ all but it’s effing Christmas innit?”. Last New Years Day Bill stormed out of the house at ten past nine in the morning, gunned the Porsche and didn’t return until the fourth of January.
“Depends what you mean by alright” she said. It turns out that Bill and Jane had agreed on a “no present” rule for each other but then, at the last minute, she had cracked and bought him a watch. As a result he sulked throughout Christmas Day. “So, the day after Boxing Day he went online and found one of them clinics, you know, that do…..stuff” she added, shivering as a particularly arctic gust of wind blew up The Avenue. I asked her in for a proper chat which she refused. “I haven’t been able to sit down since Friday night” she explained, leaning on the fence and wincing.
It turns out that Bill bought her liposuction of the thighs, bottom and stomach as a belated Christmas present. Jane lowered her glasses an inch or two and I caught sight of red raw eyes “He thought I’d love it. The surgeon assures me I will. Once I can sit down, breathe and walk properly”