While I was travelling to London at the weekend, I sat behind a mother with her small child of about 3 or 4; it's hard to tell with children these days, they often leave the womb as 14 stone teenagers because their mothers overate while they were pregnant, resulting in a race of super humans, their super power being the ability to eat their dinner really quickly, along with their crayons, their siblings and their own arms. But that's another blog, for another time.
The mother was obviously switched off to the entire world outside the massive cloud of reasonably-priced perfume that encircled her because she'd sat herself and her child in Coach B. Coach B is traditionally the QUIET coach, as denoted by the stickers dotted about the place showing a set of lips with a finger held to them, the universally accepted symbol of quietness, one of which, ironically, the mother and child were sitting beneath. I say ironically because the child's voice didn't drop below the level of foghorn for the entire two and a half hour journey, despite the mother's ever so delicate, ever so effective shushings. (NB, anyone who reads this and then reads my novel...whenIfindanagent and whentheyfindapublisher...may feel they recognise elements of this story in chapter 7. What can I say, I travel by train a lot and there are a lot of irresponsible parents around these days.)
Anyway, by the time the journey was drawing to its King's Cross close, I realised the root of the child's over active vocal chord problems. Under the supervision of its mother, the child had consumed three cartons of Ribena, a big bag of Jelly Babies, an apple, two Coco Pops cereal bars and early onset diabetes.
Now I don't have such a huge problem with children eating a bit of sugar every now and then; I myself spent many a happy Sunday afternoon perched in the kitchen armed with a spoon, covertly devouring a tin of Golden Syrup. Yes, I had certain weight issues, but it was nothing a healthy dose of childhood pneumonia couldn't solve.
What I DO have a problem with is having my Friday evening jaunt through the Surrey countryside, those I like to spend in quiet reflection, ruined by the constant, hammering chime of, "Are we there now?"
If my children ever ask this of me they will receive a simple answer:
"No, we obviously are not there yet, but hopefully your real parents will be waiting at the station, because no child of mine could be stupid enough to think we are 'there' when the train is blatantly still moving. Now back to your needlework; your playclothes won't stitch themselves."
I am, of course, joking. My children and I will sing and dance our way about the country, pausing only in market squares to learn valuable life lessons about not feeling too sad if you don't catch a tomato and it splatters at your feet. And then, when we get home and Best Beloved asks if I mean to tell him that his children have been roaming about Salzburg dressed up in nothing but some old DRAPES, I'll say, "Yes. And having a maaaarvellous time!"
What a perfect life we'll lead.