Monday, 23 April 2012

Write-Off Mondays

Since I have been blogging and reading other people’s blogs I have seen various references to “Silent Sundays”, “Off-grid Sundays” and “Meat-free Fridays”.

I would like to introduce you to “Write-off Mondays”.  I briefly toyed with the idea of calling them “Utterly Crap Mondays” but I didn’t think that quite fitted given the idea behind this concept.

Basically, Write-off Mondays involve you coming up with the nicest possible ideas and plans for your Monday…and then accepting that there is no realistic prospect of these plans reaching fruition and giving up and returning to bed for the rest of the day, ignoring all whinging and begging by small children who want to actually leave the house.

The impulse behind Write-off Mondays is simple.  For some reason, my Mondays always go horribly wrong and finish up costing me vast amounts of money, sweat and tears.  Last Monday I stopped at a particular shop I had been driving past for months, paid for parking, unloaded children from the car, and promptly dropped my phone and broke the screen.  This was on the same day that I finished up spending vast amounts of money on lunch as the cheap, child-friendly place we were heading for turned out to be closed, necessitating a detour into the nearest food-selling establishment – not cheap, and not child friendly.  And despite my best efforts, Thomas decided to practice his Spawn of Satan impression and scream, kick and flail all the way round South-West London.

He Who Shall Not Be Named claims that I was actually rocking back and forwards very slightly by the time he got home.

So unnecessary costs accrued last Monday:

£2.60 – parking
£7 – extra food costs
£30 – new phone screen

This Monday was even better.  It was special.

I had a perfectly reasonable plan.  We would drive across London to meet my friend and her two children at a soft-play centre, park in the supermarket carpark for ease of grocery shopping, have lunch there and then drive back home, no doubt with two sleeping children which would allow me to park outside the fabric shop and run in for a few bits and pieces unencumbered by a rampaging toddler. 

It was a great plan. 

Unfortunately, Thomas also had a plan.  His plan involved subjecting the unfortunate occupants of the soft-play centre to some of his finest whinge.  He kept plonking himself down in the middle of the floor and wailing so heart-rendingly that other mums would rush up to him crying “Oh, what’s wrong, darling?”, at which point he would sniffle and whisper incoherently, occasionally breaking into a fresh round of pitiful sobbing.  Inevitably, when I wandered over and pointed out that absolutely nothing had happened and he was just suffering from a chronic case of Pointless Whinge, they didn’t believe me and glared at me, sporting their best cats-bum mouths.

Eventually the soft-play torture ended and we went via the car-park to drop my overstuffed general crap changing bag before walking up to the supermarket.

The click of the closing boot hadn’t even had time to echo round the car-park when I realised what I had done.  Keys and pretty much everything else inside a car with a boot that opens independently of the doors and locks automatically.  Me outside with wallet, phone, toddler, baby and sling.  It was like an episode of the Krypton Factor.

After the inevitable waving of arms and jumping up and down, I realised there was only one thing to do.  Well actually, there were two things to do, but the first was to shout at Thomas to please stop asking “You lock the car, mummy?” with a definite note of glee in his voice, which didn’t really make inroads into getting the car open, but did reduce the possibility of my head exploding and rendering the whole problem moot anyway.  The second thing to do was to trek across London for an hour, get the spare keys to the flat, collect the spare car keys, trek back and then retrace the journey by car.

Now I know my limitations.  I should do.  I come up against them plenty of times.  So I phoned through a frantic plea for assistance to Thomas’s nursery, and half an hour and two buses later, I was de-toddlered.  Things were looking up.


If this was the Krypton Factor, someone had clearly decided things were starting to look too easy and responded by ordering a wholesale cancellation of the trains into central London.  I was assured by the station staff that this was a temporary blip so I comforted myself by buying a Greggs cheese and onion pasty and a wispa bar before heading down to the platform.  I was headed off by an employee of South-West Trains.

“Next train platform one.”

“But the thing says platform two.”

“No.  Platform one.”

“Is it definitely coming before the 12.34 on platform two?”

“Yes.  The thing is wrong”

I went to platform one.

The train arrived on platform two. 

I paused in the midst of the obviously fruitless stampede towards the stairs to wail “But he said it was platform one” at another staff member who regarded me disapprovingly.

“You should have looked at the thing,” he said.

Can I hastily reassure my regular readers that I didn’t push him under a train.  But it was a close-run thing.

Things took a turn for the better when He Who Shall Not Be Named came up with a solution that would short-cut proceedings considerably.  He would cycle to the flat, pick up the spare keys and took them back to his office and meet me there.

I therefore took myself into the City.  It was raining.  Ben had wee-ed on me.  I had looked better.  As I trudged down the road, a particularly coiffed city-boy type tripped past, twirling his brolly merrily.  I half expected him to burst into song and swing round the nearest lamppost a lá the city scenes in Mary Poppins or the eponymous scene from Singing in the Rain.  As he past me he looked at me with a mixture of pity and distaste.  I swear his nose wrinkled a little bit.  I garnered several similar looks while skulking in the imposing entrance to HWSNBN’s office.  I shuffled into the corner and tried to look unobtrusive. 

As I lurked there I was overcome with a slightly insane urge to grab the arm of some passing city-type and shout “I used to come into the City when I was a lawyer.  I wore a suit and everything.  Sometimes I even I had files.

But now I was a woman with no keys, no coat and a Tesco carrier bag containing half a Greggs pasty, being wee-ed on by a baby in a silly hat. 

It was one of those “How did I get here?” moments.

Eventually the keys arrived, the baby was changed (On the floor of the posh visitors’ toilets.  Ha!  In your face, smart city people), and I made my way back to retrieve the car and the toddler.

Today cost me:

£9 – extra parking costs
£4.60 – bus fares to nursery

£7 – travel pass for train and tube
£29 – nursery fees

99p – unnecessary Greggs pasty

This is why I am instigating Write-off Mondays.  In future I will come up with a plan for a lovely day of educational, enriching activities.  And then I will write them off and take to my bed.

It will be considerably cheaper and probably won’t involve shouting and arm-waving.

Or if it does, at least it will be horizontal shouting and arm-waving.

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