I am jumping right in while riding the high of my post earlier this evening, the below bit of writing is far from refined, has only had a very light edit, I didn’t want to allow myself enough time to bottle it and loose the drive so here it is, my first work of fiction in I really don’t know how long but about 20 years. Given all that I am fairly pleased with it and enjoyed writing it, once I started, one I had the framework in mind it just flowed so I hope it isn’t too terrible!
So, where do you start with this kind of tale, what are the opening words? It could be ‘It was cold winters morning’ or maybe ‘The day seemed ordinary enough’ both would be true but neither really seem to sum up the reality somehow, they don’t seem to capture that fact that is was way below freezing, the heating had failed overnight resulting in indoor icicles and the school uniform hung out to dry before bed the previous evening was now stiff as a board with frost. This crisis of modern life and others like it do not seem out of the ordinary to me, bad luck and disaster seem to follow me around like the angry goat at city farm, yet I know for others that this wouldn’t be a day that seemed ordinary, I think I am just resigned to my fate now, the living proof of the hypothesis that what can go wrong will go wrong. I could easily be misjudged at this point and taken for a wet lettuce in the middle of a pity festival but thats not me. At least I really hope it isn’t, the outlook I am really going for is to be the kind of person who laughs, shrugs and gets on with the day with a smile. I have got the shrugging and carrying on bits down, the laugh and smile missed the bus so will be in late this morning. They do that allot and should probably learn to drive.
So, it was one of ‘those mornings’ the Monday morning from hell when it’s all gone wrong before 8am and then you eye up the book bags in the hall, they both have the tell tale look of containing homework books, the ones that are due in today, the homework books that have been sitting in the book bags untouched all weekend.
The children re-enact several world wars (hot and cold) as they eat breakfast while you desperately try and thaw out the last remaining school jumpers that have escaped the crack in time and space that seems to exist in the school cloakroom and sustain itself entirely on the most expensive parts of the school uniform and try to think of what excuse for missing homework you haven’t already used this term. It is at this point that the oldest, the girl, pipes up that she doesn’t need her recorder today as the school photos are being taken and her class are first because they have swimming this morning.
There it is, that moment in all it’s rotten glory, that moment when Monday morning jumps the shark and becomes one of ‘those’ mornings that the children will remember and retell to their own Grandchildren, that morning when Mummy’s face went completely white before she was sick in the sink and then did a fine impression of an old fashioned kettle hitting the boil.
I don’t remember much detail of the moments that followed the girls revelation. Unfortunately I can remember all too well how long it took afterwards for me to pick up the clothes that that decorated the whole house like an indoor, fabric, toilet roll bombing. Why is it that when you don’t need an item of clothing you find it seemingly everywhere while looking for something else yet when you do need to find the blasted swimming costume in a time frame that would make even the most hardy of Dale Winton’s Supermarket sweep contestant blanch you simply can’t remember that sensible place you put it?
I did find it eventually, it had clearly been playing mind games with me as after I had searched the whole house I pulled open the girls underwear draw contemplating on the likelihood of social services involvement if I sent her in with a vest and knickers and called it a tankini when there it was, in among the vests and pants, in the very place I had looked for it first. This chain of events was repeated for both her swim cap and goggles. By this point I had abandoned the idea of thawing the school jumpers and had barked instructions to them both to raid the lost property bin for a couple of jumpers while no one was looking and they could put them back after the pictures where done. I have no idea if they had actually taken in this instruction given they had entered the trance state of their morning meditation in front of CBBC but by that point I was past caring on the jumper issue and was more occupied by the fact I would need to write a note giving permission for the wearing of goggles and to do this I would need to locate both pen and paper.
My house isn’t large, in fact it is little more than a postage stamp, not even a large letter one, a bog standard postage stamp and given it is just me, the girl, the boy and the cat who thinks he is a squirrel who reside here you would think losing things shouldn’t be a problem. It is, it’s a big problem. I can find anything I am not looking for, thats fine, but the minute I need something and need it quickly the situation rapidly goes down hill. At that moment all I needed was pen and paper, I am a Brownie leader, the girl is a budding artist, pens and paper should be one shortage we should never encounter and yet all I could find was half a purple crayon and the envelope from a bit of junk mail (not one of the ones with a free pen in, no, that would be too useful) so after an unfruitful attempt at trying to convince the girl that her eyes didn’t really sting and go red with chlorine and that goggles are overrated I scrawled ‘Girl can wear goggle because of eyes’ in purple crayon on the torn envelope, just in time I remembered the homework situation and added ‘P.S Girl and Boy will bring homework in tomorrow due to life, sorry’.
The boy had been back and forth to the hallway three times and like a squash ball he just kept coming back having achieved nothing but break another chunk of what passed for sanity away from me. Once his shoes finally did find their way to his feet we repeated the same for his coat. The ‘helpful’ alarm on my phone that let me know when we needed to leave for school had been blasting out for a good five minutes but it was lost somewhere under the enormous pile of ‘stuff’ strewn around after the swimming kit search so I grabbed up all the bags, hustled the children out the door and was halfway down the front path before I realised I had only managed to pull on a pair of jeans, was still wearing the baggy t=shirt I had slept in, had no coat on and worse, no shoes.
The next attempt at leaving the house saw us getting halfway down the road before the fact that neither child had brushed their teeth hit me like a shetland pony who had just caught sight of a packet of polos.
Third time lucky, we marched down the road, the children eating toothpaste and me trying not to look at the girls hair that looked something like a birds nest the day after the chicks had moved out and the parent birds had thrown the party of their lives.
I put the lack of other people heading towards school as a bad sign, we were late, I was going to have to do the walk of shame across the playground and take the children in through the office and then try to escape before anybody saw the purple crayon monstrosity or looked too closely at my non jumpered, non groomed and homework light offspring.
We rounded the corner and I walked straight into the hard metal of the school gate.
The closed school gate.
I looked up at the empty playground beyond, the agonising lack of cars in the staff carpark and then finally my eyes found the note taped on the gate, the one that informed me that a burst pipe due to the cold weather meant that school was closed and at the bottom, somewhat smugly was added that a text had been sent out to all phones registered on the Parentmail system. My phone was registered with the system, it was also under several upended laundry baskets and their contents.
With my laugh and smile still somewhere on the bus in the morning traffic I shrugged, took the hands of the boy and the girl and headed home. We would have another bash at it tomorrow after all and maybe tomorrow would be the day we escaped the Groundhog.