Monday, July 11, 2005

Babies and bazaars

Heartfelt thanks to all my far flung friends for the texts/emails/phonecalls received over the last couple of days. I am fine. Shaken but not stirred, as they say. (Who says that??) And life here in London is getting back to normal. I came into work this morning on the tube as if nothing had happened. There was a moment when the train stopped for no apparent reason in the tunnel between Westminster and Waterloo and I could sense my panic levels rising slightly. Then I recalled that the tube is constantly stopping in between stations for no apparent reason and took it for a sign that everything really is back to normal. When the Thameslink is delayed and then cancelled some time later on in the week (as it surely will be) I’ll know for certain that things are once again as they should be. The only discernible change is that people (especially the media) are constantly repeating clichés such as ‘life goes on’ and ‘they won’t change our way of life’ and marvelling on the united spirit of Londoners. If anyone else comments that Londoners are displaying the Blitz spirit or the courage of Dunkirk I think I’ll scream. Even her Majesty has drawn parallels between the bombing during the blitz and Thursday’s terror. She made her comments while she was visiting the wounded in Hospital – as if they haven’t suffered enough.

But , cliché or not, life does go on. And the weekend was hot and sunny and crowded with children. In the morning we had my nephew’s 5th birthday party. Scrappino is very proud of his younger cousins – especially as he’s the oldest of the bunch – and he had a great time. I have to admit though, I was less than keen. Don’t get me wrong. I love my nephew. I love all my nephews and nieces. They are terrific. It’s all the other kids at the party that I can’t stand. I adore my relatives’ kids and my friends’ children. But strangers children? Dreadful. Just can’t stand them. The only benefit I can see from spending time with other people’s children is that it reminds you just how much you love your own. Of course, life is never simple. After convincing myself that I was in no hurry to return to sleepless nights and dirty nappies I went to the second birthday party of the day – a friend’s daughter’s first birthday. No hoards of strange children. No toddlers demanding extra jelly and a bigger slice of cake. Just the (very cute) birthday girl in her party dress. It’s enough to make a girl broody.

Sandwiched in between the two parties was Scrappino’s school bazaar. Or should that be bizarre? For some inexplicable reason, I was asked to help out on the face painting stall. Odd, because I have no experience and little artistic talent. The other woman running the stall was an expert. She had her own set of professional face paints (Who has their own set of face paints??) and she’d brought books of face painting designs with her. It wasn’t long before the kids waiting in line realised that I was the short straw. As they reached the front of the queue they’d point to the “I’ve brought my own face paints” lady and ask “Can she do mine please?” Nobody wanted me to do their faces. Which is not surprising. The first little girl asked to be a flower. So I applied a light shade of pink all over her face with the idea of painting petals on each cheek. But I kind of overdid the pink so that by the end she looked like she was either back from two weeks in Tenerife or had just had a screaming tantrum. Which is fitting, because as soon as she saw her face in the mirror she had a screaming tantrum and her dad had to take her home. Undeterred, I started work on the next little boy. He wanted to be a tiger. (A tiger?? Is he having a laugh?) So I started by applying a layer of orange, with the idea that I’d paint black and white stripes over the orange. Unfortunately, the white didn’t show up over the orange and the black just ran with the base layer to make a dark orange. The poor kid looked like he’d been tangoed. I saw him later in the yard, frantically trying to wash it off. Four quid that cost him. A month’s pocket money to look like the love child of Judith Chalmers and David Dickinson. Still, it’s all for charity as they say.

Scrappino tends to be a bit wary at fairs. He likes to check out every stall before he’ll buy anything or try any of the games. He wants to make sure he makes an educated decision on what to spend his tokens on. We had to do a full circuit of the entire playground to see what was on offer before he would do anything. I took him round the brik-a-brak stall but he wasn’t sure he wanted anything. He considered buying a ticket for the raffle but decided to think about it first. He wasn’t sure if he should play ‘beat the goalie’ or try his luck at the lucky dip and I couldn’t convince him to just make a decision and do something. Finally, I asked him if he’d like his face painting. Without any hesitation he said “definitely not”. Ah well, life goes on.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, you've put a huge smile on my face, ur blogs tickled me pink or was it orange anyway u've made what looked like another dull day in the sprawling metropolis a positive delight. x

8:40 am  

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