Tuesday, 8 September 2009


“Cheer up Alice for God’s sake. It’s just a bit of rain”.
I poked my nose out of the back door and immediately retrieved it. A bit of rain? Was Hubby delusional? A deluge of water ran down the garden path taking with it a parasol and garden table and one, most discomfited cat.
I sighed. Another summer over and my bottom has hit the beach, twice. The water woggles and inflatable LiLo that I bought in Menorca have stayed in the boiler cupboard where we stash all the reusable shopping bags.
As if sensing my despair, the seven year old walked into the kitchen.
“This weather is savage mummy. I’ll be back to spelling and times tables tomorrow, what can we do today to keep our spirits up?”
“Yes mummy”, opined the Red-Head, who is rarely far from her big sister, “What can we do? We never do anything”.
My son, the one with ten GCSEs, ambled in, dressed in what can only be described as clothes one might wear, if one was expecting on opening a door, to be greeted by hundreds of teenage girls, all screaming and fainting at the very sight of you.
“Right Ma?”, he asked, kissing my head, “I’m going to check out some guitar shops in Exeter. See you later”. And picking up a cold piece of toast he walked away.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. You can’t go out like that. You’re half naked, it’s pouring down and you need more breakfast than that. Besides, with who are you going to Exeter, when will you be back and how do you intend to finance such an excursion?”.
“Ma, I am fully dressed and I......”
“You are not. Leather jeans and a shirt barely buttoned up is not what I would call fully dressed. You’ll get pneumonia and then where will you be? You can’t go to the 6th Form with pneumonia”.
“Well thanks for stating the obvious, but I doubt that a bit of a drizzle will endanger my life”. Divine intervention however had a hand in making him rethink his choice of outfit as the back door crashed open, blowing a kitchen stool over and scattering all three cats, who had previously been peering despondently through the cat-flap, squawking and meowing for their lives.
“Ok, ok, I’ll go and put a jacket on”, conceded my son.
“Make it water proof”, I called after him, “Dad’s Kagoule is hanging up”. He turned around and threw me a look that suggested, ‘Over my very dead body’.
He returned five minutes later wearing a leather biker’s jacket and one of his teenage sister’s sparkly scarves. The teenage fans would by now be apoplectic. I was for different reasons.
“Darling, you are going to get soaked through. You’ll be miserable walking around the shops if you are dripping wet.” I handed him a bagel.
“So who are you going with?”
“Jack and Jim”, he mumbled.
“Well I’ll bet their mums are making them wear something sensible”.
“Ma, for God’s sake, we’re nearly seventeen. Our mums are not meant to be still tucking our vests, however metaphorically, into our pants”.
“More’s the pity”, I replied, drily. The door bell rang and two long haired, lovers from, well not exactly Liverpool, sauntered in.
“Hi Alice, alright?”
I looked at them and sighed. It seemed only yesterday that they’d been playing with Harry Potter Lego and now they were tall and handsome with more GCSEs than the rest of our family, mine and Hubby’s combined could muster between us; had a penchant for rock music and how shall I put it, a most individual sense of style. Jim, who initially looked a little sheepish having not seen me since he had baptised me in a pint of, ahem, ‘shandy’ the previous week after celebrating his results, had a pair of red velvet bell bottoms on; Jack a purple velvet jacket. They were all accessorised by more jewellery than Liberace, if not quite as shiny.
Handing them both and much to Hubby’s chagrin, a peanut butter bagel that Hubby had just prepared himself, I warned them of the dangers of high speed trains, Exeter high street and getting damp, Jim was most perplexed.
“Alice, you’ve lost me. I get the train thing and the need to stand well clear of the yellow line. I also understand the murderous vagaries of ‘catching my death of cold’ but the high street of Exeter perilous? How so?”
I opened and closed my mouth like a goldfish and looked to Hubby for help. He smiled gleefully.
“You’re on your own Alice; please elucidate the jeopardy of Exeter’s city centre.” I was huffy.
“You’re all picking on me now. I just want you to be safe. Other shoppers, who don’t know you as I do might think you look a little, well, dodgy and report you”.
“For stroking a Les Paul?” asked Jim. I looked blank.
“It’s a guitar ma”. Oh.
“Don’t worry Alice”, said Jack “We weren’t intending on going to British Home Stores” and laughing out loud, they all stepped out into the pouring rain.
“So where does that leave us mummy? Both my eldest sister and brother are doing something nice with their last day, please can we go somewhere?”
I walked into the sitting room and sat at my desk and Googled The Vue cinema. Ice Age 3 was on. I booked four seats.
Later that evening after hanging up my son’s sodden leather jacket in the airing cupboard to dry, I plaited the girls newly washed hair. Inhaling deeply, great sniffs of lovely Johnson’s shampoo on wet hair I considered how brief a time our children tolerate such indulgencies. The eldest barely tolerates me, the next sporadically, the youngest however still think I’m the bees knees. Tucking them into bed, I closed the door quietly.On the landing stood my son. “I need some A level advice. Will you help?” Gladly, my darling boy, gladly.