Saturday morning used to be a time for serious rest and recuperation. Long summery mornings were spent twirling spoons in a coffee cup, or staying in bed. Winter mornings curled up around a fire or lying in. Hours drifting by. It’s seems extraordinary now that there was so much time to spare. This Saturday morning, instead of vacuuming up Cheerios squashed into the carpet under the breakfast table, and desperately shoving clothes and junk in cupboards, in preparation for the arrival of the lunch-time guests, I am sipping tea and reading newspapers in a café . I am about to text, or at a push, telephone my girlfriend, to cancel lunch - some unexpected illness, a last minute rash, a migraine.
I have left home without a toothbrush, or a change of clothes, or a car, because when you have children, you can’t take the one car, even if you are having a dramatic, leaving home moment. I’m not sure if anyone has noticed that I have gone, even though I announced that I’d had enough and flounced out of the door. I am in fact sitting in a café only 500 meters from the house. I’m enjoying twiddling the spoon in my tea, but when I listen to my messages, two are from my seven-year-old daughter, weeping and asking me to come home, promising to tidy her room, practice piano and do her homework, or that is what I would have liked her to say. She doesn’t of course say anything like that, but she does sound sad and tearful.
Within minutes I am back, doing all the chores that should have been done before, but in much more of a hurry. Random clothes, vacuum cleaners, the ironing board, toys, hockey sticks are now thrown into the cupboards. They are so tightly jammed that if they were opened, even the tiniest bit, the whole load would fall out and knock down a fully grown man. Perhaps even kill a man. The lunch-time stew is rapidly heated up. The friends arrive and lunch begins, nobody would guess that I left home and returned and that my daughter was abandoned and in tears. We go through the motions of eating lunch, (some cubes are meat are hard, others strangely soft) and we think about walking to the park.
In the park later, a wholesome, ginger-haired American youth has strung up a tightrope between two trees and is balancing. It seems like a sport for an exhibitionist and there is a small crowd of people staring at him. Miranda Hart is jogging with a tiny dog, the children are playing football, my girlfriend and I are asking each other how much we would need to be paid to sleep with the Bill Bailey lookalike in goal. We conclude there is no price, not even a million. We are leaving the park when we discover the children shouting “ Bill pass, hey Bill!!! WE conclude the Bill lookalike is actually not a lookalike, but the real thing.