Country Mouse rang last week.
Country Mouse: ‘Aaaargh!’
CM: ‘I’ve smoked a whole pack of cigs and it’s only nine thirty.’
Me: ‘Since when did you smoke?’
CM: ‘Desperate times, love. So, what are we going to do?’
Me: ‘I have no strategies. None. What. So. Ever.’
CM: ‘Okay, here’s mine so far. [Sound of cigarette lighter flaring; lengthy list being unravelled.] Tennis club, three days. Scuba-diving club, two days. Ju-jitsu club, only one day but that’s better than a slap round the face with a haddock.’
Me: ‘Or karate chop with a haddock?’
CM: [Ignoring me] ‘Drama club, five days, total result that one, but I did book in February. Patisserie club, three days. Phew!’
Me: ‘It does seem quite a busy schedule for a five year old.’
CM: ‘So go on then, really, no messing, what have you booked for Thing One? I’ve still got a week to fill and I was going to pinch some ideas.’
Me: [Rustling Boden catalogue to sound like impressively big list.] ‘Okay. Playground at Neville, one hour. Playground at Bell Lane, one hour. Playground at Paddock, one hour. Playground at bottom of Cliffe, thirty minutes. Well that one hasn’t got much equipment. Let’s see, that’s three and a half hours, so now I’ve only got six weeks minus three and a half hours to fill.’
CM: [Long pause] ‘Actually you’ll have to go with her, so the three and a half hours don’t count as time you can work.’
Me: ‘Fair point. Though I could probably answer a couple of emails while I’m there. The ones telling me I’ve been sacked, for instance.’
CM: ‘Must go, got to ring Hoxton Mum. She knows a pony-trekking club which still has places. Costs a bomb but it’s gold-dust – five days.’
I survey my empty calendar and try to remember what my parents did when I was off school for six weeks. Hot damn! They were teachers. Belatedly I give them credit for cleverness. Too late for me to be a teacher. Will have to employ low cunning instead.
Low cunning entails typing ‘Holiday clubs Lewes dear god help me’ into Google. It works – escis’s brilliant site has loads of ideas and I book Thing One onto everything.
I find her making her own holiday entertainment by sitting on Thing Two’s head, forcing him to sing every verse of ‘Leader of the Pack.’ When I give her the great news she informs me, to the muffled backing of ‘I can't hide the tears but I don't care’, that she is too young for holiday clubs. ‘I want to go to Spring Barn Farm every day. With you.’
I do the costings and it works out roughly the same as all the clubs. If you don’t factor in my loss of earnings. But hey, as I said to Country Mouse when she rang to offer me the final pony-trekking place, what price quality time with one’s child, eh?
She’s right, you know. Smoking really helps.
Beth Miller, 3rd August 2009. Published in VivaLewes.com