I’m currently in the north of England, up Tyneside way (yes, that’s right, Geordie Land) visiting my elderly folks with my two small boys. Yesterday evening, we ventured into the nearby Waitrose to buy some milk, as my ‘leche’-loving lil’ guzzlers can drink litres of it daily (“there’s no point crying over split milk” has been a frequently-occurring theme here in Blighty, from the council-led car-crushing incident onwards, but more on that later).
In this branch of Waitrose, every time the customer makes a purchase at the checkout, they’re given a green token to insert into one of three sections in a plastic display cabinet before leaving the store. Each section displays the details for a “good cause”, and the one that has attracted the most green tokens at the closing date receives the highest community donation from Waitrose. The first cause is for the improvement and maintenance of the presentation of the local park, the second is for funding a local nursery that would help the youngest members of the neighbourhood and their parents, and the third is for saving squirrels. Guess which section contains twice as many tokens as the other two? Well, it’s certainly not the small children: it’s the squirrels.
This comes as no surprise to me. Brits would rather aid the squirrel population than improve facilities for toddlers. Sheesh! More evidence that out attitude to family is nuts.
At least, this time round in Blighty, I haven’t received the usual quota of ‘funny looks’ while shepherding my unruly toddler twosome around in public but, then again, they’ve recently been staying with the grandparents while I sort out my affairs (I mean household and business).
I remember a notable occasion on a plane from Malaga to Edinburgh when my oldest son sneakily ate a sachet of sugar served that came with the hot drinks while I was dealing with his little brother, and he started misbehaving horribly. I kept hissing that he wouldn’t get his Scooby Doo fun pack unless he desisted in his antics and my increasingly fishwife-sounding minor threats started eliciting dirty looks from other passengers. I felt like standing up and saying: “fine – you deal with a squirming, sugar-fuelled infant in a confined space for a couple of hours and see how patient and reasonable you sound after a while.” It’s a typically English attitude from those who don’t have any children: stare in horror at Mum if the little ones aren’t being “seen and not heard”. On another occasion, the plane hadn’t even left the runway when a lady in front complained that my son (then aged two) was disrupting her seat with his feet because he wasn’t stationary. The stewardess told her to cease her impatient grumbling (in so many words).
So come on, let’s save the squirrels and keep the pesky kids safely confined to their playpens at home.
And, while I’m having a bit of a rant, it seems that Sod’s Law is in force here in Blighty.
I sold my battered VW van for a poor price at the weekend, in view of its profusion of damaged doors and panels (thanks to all who sailed in and at her.. not!). Yesterday, a mechanic friend texted me to say that his mate was breaking a similar red van and they had the doors I’d been seeking for about a year. A few days too late. Argh!
A fortnight ago, I unexpectedly found an old cheque that had never been banked nestling in a pile of unsorted mail. The cheque was replaced by the sender and duly banked by an enthusiastic me. At 9am today, I received a phone call saying that it’s a duplicate payment of one made in February 2008 and must therefore be returned to the sender. Unfortunately, not address unknown, in this case. Harrumph! This sort of early morning call is hardly the way to brighten someone’s day. Especially as I wanted to help cure the recession with some retail therapy involving consumer gadgets. Bah humbug!
Plus a publication tentatively offered me some work in Spain when I’d just left the country. What a wind up, eh.
Oh well... once it’s out, the milk can’t be poured back into the jug. As I explained to Granddad earlier, this practice can spread bacteria from one vessel to another and make the milk go sour more quickly. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we?