On the bench

Even the restaurant staff seemed to be in on it. No sooner had the pair of waiters strutted off in their confirmation trousers when our eyeballs collided over a bowl of home-made onion rings. One of his brows risen in sympathy with the near certainty they’d forgotten my order; the other furrowed in mild panic he might have to share them with me.

So I did what any considerate martyr partner would do in the circumstances: robbed our little one’s goujons and chips when she wasn’t looking, and pretended to be nonchalant about the mishap until we collared a passing waiter. Quick on the heels of a fulsome apology came the insistence I accept a few fancy beers on the house. In time honoured tradition of poker-faced comparison of orders, we both conceded I had won. A rare victory for the persona non grata on this maiden voyage.

Relegation took effect on the plane where I was condemned to three rows behind. I spent the flight straining to hear what the conspiratorial chuckling was about as they downed a bag of Haribos between them. Not so much as the offer of a fried egg insincerely made over their shoulder.

On landing, my stroller-rolling skills were deemed inferior by its passenger, so a quick pit-stop in arrivals elevated her Da to the driving seat. I shuffled behind, struggling to keep pace along with the bag, the coats, and the just-in-case blankets. And the two books and twice as many papers in case we had to huff about something, or sit through relentless teletexting for the latest sports results. If the hotel had teletext. Always a tense moment. “That remote is for the radio”. Ah, his mystified look; one of my personal favourites.

So much for the extravagantly sized bed and the neighbouring mattress that passed her battery of bouncing tests. By 2am, she was the horizontal to my vertical, until I was displaced by irredentist toes and exiled to her bed while their snores chittered on enthusiastically.

In Hamley’s, their giggles pervaded the shop like a sonar signalling their whereabouts. Fearful she had located the Barbie aisle, I was relieved to find them talking to a plastic fish doing endless laps of an over-sized bowl, momentarily pausing the rhythm of their laughter to explain the joke in a manner that implied I really needed to have been there.

They really needed to have been there to fully appreciate the spectacle of me getting stuck in the turnstile with my bag as we entered the grounds the following day. Having skipped on through the roar of the crowd in the opening minutes of the game, they missed out on the ignominy of me having to be rescued by a security official. Purposeful skipping that had no time for time-wasters unaccustomed to the ways of the modern day gladiatorial pit.

Who could blame him? He’d been planning this day since before she was born when he snuck in a new-born babygro from the official merchandise. It was official. In exchange for sparing her conscription to Catholicism, he’d recruited her to a more militant faith with its own band of over-zealous followers scarf-deep in suspicion over referee decisions and whether that ball was really off-side.

Beside them I sat, watching a grown man being reduced to a toddler barely older than the one he held aloft as the first goal went in. The one he danced with as the second sailed past them towards the back of the net. The one he plonked in between himself and the goal-scorer as he beamed down the lens of the camera I was ordered to point at them. The one who has been talking non-stop all week about their return visit.

“Maybe you could go to the cinema instead”.

Yeah, maybe. park

Match of the day

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16 thoughts on “On the bench

  1. See, this is the trouble with just having the one. You can’t get one each to play with. Then you have the added burden that you have a daughter and they always turn into Daddy’s Girl. You’re going to have to engage in some serious sabotage of this relationship 🙂 I am fortunate in having a Boy Kid, who has a weird Dad, so it’s the Two of Us against Him 🙂

  2. “strutted off in their confirmation trousers…” Gorgeous. As for your other problem, perhaps you should start hanging around with someone else’s Daddy and daughter, and see how they like it. Ingrates.

    • I was thinking of asking my own father for a unicorn. How d’ya like dem apples.

      Have fun tomorrow by the way. It’s going to be great. I expect a full report on your blog by nine hundred hours on Monday. Or the classic opening paragraph at least.

      • Oh, there will be no fun to be had tomorrow. Tomorrow is all about shouting and drill marches. Those poor fools: still, the owner of the writing centre is a nice person who provides cake and smiles at the peoples. Each to her own, I say.

        I might do a report. Or I might just post some audio of unidentified crying. We’ll see.

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