Are you on holiday? No? Oh well it must be me. So whilst on my holiwobbles I took the opportunity to accompany LP and YM to two Parent and Toddler Chapters. You might imagine, gentle reader that these would be two relatively innocuous events in the life of LP, YM and I and that we simply would X Factor ‘journey’ through these events unscathed. You would be wrong.
Before I commence I would like to offer a word of caution: All of the events depicted are trueish, however all characters appearing in this work are fictitiousish. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidentalish.
By way of comparing and contrasting I took the opportunity to visit Chapters in the Oriental and the Occidental areas of the City, the latter necessitating a humongous journey on public transport due to some unpleasantness which we will not speak of again. This made the return leg home somewhat uncomfortable thanks to the diuretic effect of 2 mugs of ‘posh’ coffee and several ‘earworm’ lullabies which, despite all attempts to eliminate remain imbedded. With regard to ‘earworms’, I really do blame myself. I shot myself in the foot shortly after LP was delivered by the Stork. With good intention I obtained 2 Gigabytes of ‘Rockabye Babe’ MP3’s. For the uninitiated, these are pop and rock songs redone as lullabies. Popular groups favoured by YM’s and DD’s are the likes of Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Metallica. Although sadly (!) and much to YM’s distress Donny Osmond does not feature. After initially thinking that this was a good idea and that I would be one cool parent, I quickly came to the conclusion that this was not as clever as I first thought. Closer by Nine Inch Nails really pushes the boundaries of acceptability in the civilised world but the reality is even worse when it is transposed into glockenspiel. Further to this, whatever song I now here becomes a lullaby in my head and therefore the earworm remains forever floating in my consciousness. So it’s a big thank you to the good people at Rockabye Baby for ruining my love of music. Do not go anywhere near Counting Crow’s. Do I make myself clear? (Though do feel free to do as you please with Donny).
Monday morning saw LP, YM and I wrapped up to face the elements and head off to the local Chapter House for the first meeting of the week. The parent and toddler group was held at 09:00, sandwiched in between an Insomniacs Anonymous meeting and a Badminton for the over 70’s group. I have to confess a sense of foreboding as we walked through a rather drab 1970’s concrete scheme towards the Community Centre. As we headed to the entrance door a sign painted in bold lettering on a garage read “No Skateboarding/Roller Skating. This only added to the sense of decay. Not of the environment though, of me. Having been born early enough to remember the first wave of Skateboarding and Roller Skates, the kind that was tied onto ones shoes, cos, well, that was the way we rolled back in the day, I pondered whether or not I was too old to be a daddy to LP. Thoughts of this nature periodically permeate my usually sunny disposition and are fleeting and easily dismissed by a smiling LP. On this occasion LP beamed up at YM and I through the plastic of her buggies rain cover which was a little too close to her face for my liking as, in my hurry to protect LP from the elements, I had omitted to put the hood up and simply placed the rain cover on top of a flat buggy. LP looked like a chrysalis making attempts to break out of a cocoon. Shame really.
We were greeted at the door by the Chapter Leader. At this point I really should attempt to give her a name however, I find, when faced with more than 2 new faces I am unable to remember any of their names. In future I would be safer not to leave the house without a role of sticky labels and a turquoise Sharpie. In this instance the Chapter Leader made life a little easier for me it was clear that she had been assisted by her cellmate to tattoo her name on her knuckles. So ACAB HATE kindly gave us a warm welcome at the security hatch and quickly undid the many Yale locks and dead bolts to let us in. LP looked relieved to be inside out of the rain. YM busied herself removing the rain cover from LP’s buggy. LP chuckled happily and quickly regained some colour in her cheeks.
As the door was closed behind us LP, YM and I found ourselves in a cavernous hall with 8 or so toddlers and a corresponding amount of parents/carers. On initial inspection I was the only person in the hall, over the age of 4, to hold both X and Y chromosomes. I would have to say that, on leaving an hour later I was not entirely convinced this hypothesis was correct.
YM, who had become a Chapter member several weeks ago, introduced me to the other parents/carers. A few glanced up from there iPhone’s and fixed me with a steely gaze. “Can you give me some Candy Crush Lives” demanded one of the Chapter members. I felt a tad guilty as I informed her that I didn’t partake. Clearly this met with disapproval as she threatened to “defriend” YM. Retribution is indeed swift within the Chapter walls.
Being a loaner around these parts may make for a good character in a spaghetti western however it is not to be recommended in the environment of the Chapter House. As LP crawled off to play with her new chums, one of which was attempting, with some success, to eat her own hand, I scanned the room and attempted to avoid making eye contact with the woman who was sitting alone in the corner rocking back and forth. With some relief one of the Chapter Members advised that she was simply trying to dry her jeans after getting caught in the rain. I decided to avoid her anyway. I attempted, by way of distraction, to play with LP who was deeply engrossed in conversation with the wee girl who continued to attempt to eat her hand. To be fare it wasn’t a great conversation but LP was clearly enjoying it as they jostled with each other to play with the only toy which wasn’t painted with Molybdate Red and had its full quota of wheels. LP was having a ball and clearly did not require YM or I to assist her. We withdrew to the side of the room and took part in general chit chat with the other Chapter members. I was, very kindly, offered a coffee and a garibaldi biscuit too. I gratefully accepted as it was only 9.15 am and this constituted as brunch since the hound had decided she wanted to go outside for a poo at 3am and YM woke me up when she let her out. As I took my seat at the main table with the other adults I casually said hi to a woman sitting making roll ups. For some inexplicable reason, within about 2 minutes, she had advised me that she was employed “all over Scotland” as a slaughter man. I probably mean slaughter person but no matter which way I say it still sounds wrong. This conversation came to a head when we agreed to differ on the best way to remove hair from a, most probably gratefully, dead pig.
Thankfully we were asked by the Chapter Leader to collect our own children and bring them to the table for breakfast (Yes, I shuddered too). YM and I quickly scanned the room for LP who had by now moved on from fist in mouth toddler to snot in hair baby. Breakfast was served directly onto high chair tables. LP looked at the margarine coated waffle with some trepidation but then threw caution to the wind and tentatively gummed a corner. I think LP is trying to save her 5 or so teeth for something special as she seems to dislike using them for the purpose with which they were intended, unless of course that purpose is to bite my ear when she is in her baby rucksack.
After breakfast LP and I settled down to another 15 or so minutes of play. Some of the other children were having their nappies changed by now, however since YM had invested in Purple Pampers there would be no leakage of bodily fluids.
LP reached into a rather dilapidated Esso Service Station toy and pulled out….wait for it……wait for it….the best toy in the history of toys! An Evil Knievel Stunt Bike! Imagine LP’s pure excitement as she popped Evil’s head into her mouth and used it as a teething ring. Was I wrong to prize Evil’s soggy head out of my daughter’s mouth and Line him up for one last run. As I clipped Evil into his windie up thingie and wound the wee white handle to power up his motor bike I was 6 years old again laying on my grannies carpet watching Evil Knievel zoom across the carpet and hopefully pop a wheelie. Happy Days.
The end of the week say YM and I alight a bus after a rather fraught 45 minute journey and follow the other buggies, pied piper style, toward a small Church hall. We were running late and when we arrived the street was full to overflowing with Bugaboo buggies. The Duchess of Cambridge has a lot to answer for. Her wee Doad would have been just fine in an Oyster Buggy like LP’s. We quickly parked up and scooped LP, who was dressed casually in her best John Rocha outfit, out of her Oyster and took her inside. We were greeted at the door by the Chapter Leader. Not a sign of a Jail tattoo on this one though as she clipped her radio mic into the wasteland of her mummy jeans. Immaculate in her fitted tee shirt and jeans ensemble complete with bonny and functional red Flossy’s, the Chapter Leader warmly welcomed us and, with a Matron like tone, ushered us into the hall which was filled to capacity with ruddy faced children dressed in Fat Face kid’s clothes. YM, who, as we have established knows a thing or two about children’s clothing, suggested somewhat uncharitably, that there may have been a recent smash and grab in Smarty Pants, the children’s Boutique just up the road.
There was another man present. I watched as he clutched his wee daughter to him and attempted not to make eye contact with the real housewives of Brought Ferry. I realised then and there that I would have to copy this fellow survivor if I was to survive.
LP was ready to play and busied herself stealing beanbags from the other children. In many respects she takes after YM who, last time she attended a Donny Osmond Concert, became jealous of the various merchandise which others around her had bought. YM then decided she would simply purchase ALL the merchandise from the vendor. At least that was how it felt to me. LP had amassed a fine collection of bean bags which stopped many of the other children participating in the first song which required beanbags for some reason which I still remain unsure of. This behaviour caused YM and I to be on the receiving end of a Paddington Bear Stare and a lecture for LP on the value of sharing. LP took this all in her stride and simply attempted to further enhance her collection of beanbags.
The Chapter Leader was, by now, in full swing. So much was her enthusiasm that her radio mic became dislodged in mid song. This rather made a mockery of her choreographed moves and did not in any way add to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Finally I understood what it was like to be a One Direction Fan as the Chapter Leader whipped the audience up into a frenzy………only to announce that it was time for the children to have a snack and the parents/carers to have a coffee and ‘tray bake’.
On turning round to look for waffles and margarine I was taken by the vision that was before me. Trestle tables had been set out by the Chapter Leaders flunkies, I would assume. These tables, covered in the finest Damask Linen, were laden with a cornucopia of canapés and sweetmeats. LP was incontinent with excitement as she stated wide eyed at the variety of food sourced from the 4 corners of Marks and Spencer Simply Food. YM jostled her way to the front of the queue and proceeded to hold LP’s bowl ‘Oliver Twist style’ as one of the flunkies used EPNS tongs to take guacamole coated poppy seed focaccia and puffed rice crackers glistening with grains of the finest lump fish caviar. All of this was lost to me for I had my eyes on a far greater prize. To the left of me was a table festooned with French Press Coffee Pots and Bone China Cake Stands filled to overflowing with ‘tray brakes’. What most impressed me was Pecan Nuts. I had no idea that they were supposed to look like a slice of brain. I have only ever dared to whisper their name in reverence and occasionally put chopped ‘shop damaged’ pecan’s in my cakes. Having taken some tips form YM, shouldered my way to the front of the line and inhaled deeply as my olfactory system was thoroughly stimulated by the aroma of fresh Coffee.
Kopi Luwak I presume.
LP loves going to Parent and Toddler Groups with YM and sometimes me too. For that matter I really enjoyed singing songs and playing with our daughter. Both groups were great in their own way….but only one of them had an Evil Knievel Stunt Bike.