Wednesday, 25 July 2012
I find it very hard to swallow the arrogance of people who don't feel the need to complete an address, presumably because it must be obvious to the recipient that we're talking about London. Ask a non-Londoner where they live, and they'll give you a town. Bristol, York, Hastings... Ask me and I'll give you the name of my town, then add a helpful pointer to counteract your blank look. 'Where Rebekah Brooks lives,' usually does the trick. But ask a Londoner where they live, and they won't say London. Instead their answer will be some obscure district, perhaps an Underground station name, or even a postcode. I once made small talk at a bar in Athens, with a sweaty man in an inadvisable pair of Bermudas. 'Whereabouts are you from?' I asked. 'E17,' he countered.
E17? Was he a postman? Or should we all be referring to our postcodes in lieu of anything recognisable? Should I be saying airily, 'I'm from OX7, just up the M40 from HP18'? Oh, FFS.
What's the big deal about London, anyway? I can't bear it. Granted, I'm really a country girl. Too long in the city and I start gasping for air like a stranded sardine, searching frantically around for a park which isn't surrounded by iron railings and smog-filled junctions. But I spent a couple of years in Paris and miss it terribly, so I'm not anti-cities per se. I just don't see what the big deal is about London. Friends of mine would rather cut off a limb than move out of 'town', others have grudgingly crept out to the 'burbs, where it scarcely feels like London at all, but they can lay claim to a tube station (albeit at the end of a ten-minute bus journey).
'Oh, London's just amazing,' they gush. 'I mean, if I want Lebanese food at 3am it's like, right on my doorstep.' Frankly nowadays the only thing I want at 3am is a wee, so I'm still missing the appeal of the Big Smoke. It's filthy, it's expensive, it's full of tourists and it's impossible to buy a house with a garden unless you're rolling in cash or want to live in an 'up and coming' neighbourhood which currently boasts abandoned mattresses, a muttering madman with dreadlocks and a shopping trolley, and a bloke who urinates against your front door on his way home from the pub.
London, baby? You can keep it.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
'Oh yes, we're alright now,' she said.
There was a short pause while I digested the implications of this.
'Now?' I enquired lightly.
My mother had duly turned up at nursery at 3pm to collect the twins. She rang the bell and explained she was there to pick up Ben and Ellie.
'We don't have a Ben or an Ellie here, I'm afraid.'
Not at all surprising, as Ben and Ellie are my sister's twins, and they live approximately fifty miles away. However, gentle insistence from my mother persuaded the member of staff to go away and double-check. Whilst she was gone, it dawned on my mother that she was thinking of the wrong set of grandchildren, apologising profusely to the nursery teacher on her return.
'It's Evie and Georgie I'm here to collect. I'm so sorry.'
By now the nursery teacher was looking a little suspicious.
'We don't have an Evie or a Georgie.'
'Really? Could you check?'
The teacher left my mother at the door once again (presumably after having bolted it securely) and was away for some time. Perhaps the police switchboard was busy. She returned with a steely glare and a second member of staff.
'Definitely no Evie or Georgie here,' she said.
Because my mother was at the wrong place.
So she tried the one around the corner, but guess what? It wasn't that one either. By now I'm quite sure the All Ports Warning had been issued, and children everywhere were being given a hasty lecture in 'stranger danger'.
Half an hour later, my mother arrived at the last nursery in town.
'Hello!' they said, cheerfully (they obviously hadn't received the alert), 'You must be Evie's and Georgie's grandmother. Did you find us alright?'
'Eventually,' said my mother, 'I had a few problems along the way...'
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
'What's that, Mummy?'
I thought fast, and decided I wouldn't come clean.
'It's a rocket ship.'
Situation resolved, we left the playhouse in favour of the slide, which was blissfully free from phalluses.
Yesterday I picked up my son from school and was beckoned into the classroom for a private chat with the teacher.
'Is everything okay?' I asked.
'Oh yes, everything's fine,' she said. 'It's just that we started our space project this week, and we were a little concerned about this picture he drew of a rocket...'