Death of a dream

Day 15

So here it is, the final weekday of the Christmas holidays. This is the only school holiday of the year that I get to this point and I am not ready to show up at the school gates at 6am on Monday morning. It is the one holiday when I find myself thinking that maybe another week would be nice. It is the fact that there is never a clear week of the holiday when there isn’t an ‘event’ and associated public holiday. This wistfulness only lasts as long as the break between sibling arguments mind so never gets enough time to form into anything like yearning or a resolve for change, I see this as natures inbuilt self protection and I am grateful for it.

Once the children got home from their Fathers in the middle of the day we set out to first get the boy the haircut and then with plans to go into Oxford to find the 1 billion pound shop.

Clearly enough time for thought had passed to build a deep yearning for that 1 billion pound shop the boy had assured me lay waiting in Oxford because not once, but twice I completely ignored the fact our first stop was the local town for hair cutting and bill paying. After the first time I merrily ignored the turning for town and had then navigated myself back onto the correct route I suddenly realised why the boy had been repeating again and again that ‘This is the way to my doctors!’ from the back of the car. That was because I had yet again strayed from my path to the town and was heading off towards Oxford again.

I finally managed to block to lure to Oxford long enough to get us into town and after a spot of the boring task of paying bills we found ourselves waiting our turn at the hairdresser and I found myself yet again having to bargain with the boy that while Bieber hair may look cool to him he did need to be able to see past his fringe. We finally hit a compromise in which there where to be no clippers, the hair at the top could stay reasonably long but I would be able to see both eyes and ears at all times. The boy is happy with the results but has insisted gel shall be needed for the next school disco so he can perfect the ‘bed head’ style. Thankfully we have a whole term until that point and as he has a memory to rival my own I am hoping that if nobody says the words ‘Justin Bieber’ between now and that point I might just get away with it.

Next stop was to give in to the force dragging me into Oxford. Hitting traffic seduced us into giving the park and ride a try. It was a cruel lie. As soon as we where committed to the park and ride I could see that the traffic jam had completely vanished. The children at that point where full of the kind of enthusiasm for public transport only the under 10’s can have so there was no easy way out. I have become convinced that the traffic lights on that junction are set up as to make you think it is bumper to bumper traffic all the way into the city what ever the real situation may be just to trick you into using the park and ride.

On the bus ride the boy was as normal questioning me intensely on the lives and loves of every animal, mineral, vegetable that his eyes fell upon. He is of the unshakable opinion that I should know all and every detail about anything or anyone that his eyes fall upon and is only just starting to accept that outside the village I don’t always have all the answers. This resulted in my strangest moment of the day. The boy was questioning me about some people he could see from the bus window, when I was not able to satisfactorily answer the questions the boy pondered, ‘Maybe they are in mourning’. Oh. okay. Where did that come from? The boy has an expressive language disorder but he does love to throw some stuff out there just to keep everybody involved with him on the ball.

We couldn’t find the 1 billion pound shop. The girl found plenty of shops with pretty dresses and jackets. The boy found shops with superman braces and ties. I had to settle for a new bath mat and some towels. I’m very disappointed and in mourning for the loss of my happy hour browsing the shelves of the 1 billion pound shop.

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Mothering the Apocalypse (part 2)

Dear Diary,

The crunch arrived today, My expected Ocado delivery was a no show. I know there is an apocalypse on but it is so very unlike Ocado not to come, I would expect it from Asda, maybe even Sainsburys but I somehow held onto the hope that James in the Avocado van would brave it all to keep his customers happy. So, cupboards bare of anything I could feed us on without the use of electricity I had to face the prospect of post apocalyptic food shopping.

It took longer than I should really admit to decide that leaving the children in the house while I went out to do whatever a ‘quick shop’ consisted of in this new world we found ourselves in. While finding myself answering hard questions from police and social services was no longer something to worry about my concerns mainly revolved around the many different ways God and Helen could finish off what is left of the human race given the smallest of opportunity.

I contemplated walking for less time than you can say ‘herding cats’ and thankfully the now fully burnt out car on the road outside the house was just far enough along for me to be able to get my Mum tank off the drive. Well almost far enough over but I don’t think I need to worry about insurance claims for the damage caused and maintaining the paint work on my car is so far down the list of priorities it is making itself comfortable along side mowing the lawn and clearing out the loft.

So off we headed through the largely empty suburban streets only seeing a couple of other people out braving this new world and occasionally catching movement of curtains as we passed by homes, you can never put down neighbourhood watch it seems.

I did for the first time start to wonder what had caused this cataclysmic chain of events, I know as well as any parent how quickly things can turn to chaos and violence if you pop upstairs to the loo on your own for a few minutes but given the world had seemed normal on the last day of term two weeks earlier the speed of societies collapse was somewhat suspicious.

My deeper musings were pushed aside once more a short time later as we pulled into the large carpark of the supermarket. The sight before me was a real let down. All the hours of pop culture I had ingested had lead me to expect the opportunity to indulge in some good honest looting. I had been nursing the expectation of grabbing a trolley, sprinting around the store scooping in piles of tins of beans and peas (I can’t really explain why peas, but my fantasy was very precise), I had planned to loot sensibly paying close attention to what would keep the best and be the most versatile, I was going to be the best looter any apocalypse real or fictional had ever seen.

Yet again I had missed it. I had spent too long holding onto the hope of James and his Avocado van. The thing that surprised me wasn’t what you would have expected, empty shelves with everything already stripped out by others was what popular culture had told me would happen but the reality was that a small group of fellow survivors had taken control of the supermarket and were running it like, well, a normal shop.

It was all very civil and sensible and utterly, utterly disappointing. What good was the collapse of society if you didn’t get to have a little fun with it? Clearly there was a slightly higher risk involved than a normal day as evidenced by the heavily armed guards protecting the building but if there had been any rioting and fighting for control I yet again had missed it completely. I did run up against one major sticking point and that was payment.

Clearly cash had no value but to be fair to me I had braved the outside with the expectation of having to fight off crazed survivors for the last tin of peaches found under the empty shelving units (again, precise fantasy is my thing). I had almost looked forward to the excitement after the entire school holidays and three days of hoping with no company or entertainment other than two small bickering children, I felt I had been robbed of an experience by the civilised nature of the set up, I was very close to getting back into the car to go and find somewhere I could scratch my looting itch.

Thankfully the maternal instinct people always seem to bang on about found a way through eventually and I begrudgingly accepted that maybe going looking for trouble with kids in tow might not be the actions of a completely sane and reasonable human being let alone Mother.

I used my full arsenal of available weapons to get enough food to tide us over for a few more days, I drove a tough bargain and the shopkeeper cracked quickly. Who wouldn’t when presented with two crying children and a snotty and sobbing middle aged woman. I had in fact had to  bribe the children with the promise of a full fifteen minutes of the remaining laptop battery time if they cried about how hungry and scared they were.

So we are safely back at home with our first visit into the outside world over with. I am still none the wiser on the subject of what on earth happened, the people we met at the shops didn’t want to talk about it, in fact the only time I felt at all worried for our safety was when I asked the question. I am starting to wonder if everybody else who has survived also missed it but are as embarrassed as me about this fact and that is why they are so defensive.