Being ill when you’re looking after small children is really, really horrid. I was ill this week with some weird can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it virus thing which makes your temperature go up and down and gives you symptoms of the kind of belt and braces maladies my sister and I used to invent when we really didn’t want to go to school: ‘I’ve got a sore throat, a headache and a stomach-ache. And I was just a bit sick.’
When you’re looking after small kids, though, you’re not allowed a sick day. You have to drag yourself about doing all the usual things, and you have to seem cheerful about it because if they discover a weakness, you’ve had it. There does come a point where this is impossible, so although we did go to playgroup, and to a farm, and Ziggler went to nursery, we also spent a lot of time watching telly and sitting on the sofa. I’d been concentrating on the big tasks of keeping everyone alive, in clothes and mainly entertained, so did no shopping. By the end of the week we were eating quite esoteric meals such as fishfingers smothered in a lentil sauce, accompanied by the unidentified result of a freezer excavation.
By Saturday, each of the three of us was desperate to be rid of the others. Even Pickle gave me an ecstatic ‘ba ba’ and waved me off from the cough-free comfort of daddy’s arms as I escaped with a kick of my heels and a lingering trail of laughter. Although I was still intermittently feverish and had a hacking cough, Sausage and I had decided to go shopping.
It says something about your everyday life when being stuck in traffic on the rainy south circular feels like a lovely treat. But, then, what’s not to like? You’re warm, you’ve got music, and my this case my lovely sister to talk to. Nobody is crying because they’ve spilt their juice or wanting you to wipe their bottom. Nobody is heartbroken because you’ve nipped away for a wee. It is heavenly.
I think we’d forgotten we don’t really like shopping. We were trying out the big Westfield Shopping Centre (not the big new East Westfield, the old West Westfield, in the West and not the East and therefore, really, more appropriately named). Usually both of us have a tendency to slip into glazed-eyed automaton mode in these kinds of big Malls. It’s something about the shiny floor, and the shiny shop windows, and all the people, and the perfume smell everywhere, and all the space, and the overall other-worldliness therein. I generally feel a bit panicky actually. Partly because, although I think I am reasonably attractive, I am in no way Well Groomed and always feel like I shouldn’t be in such a temple to Good Grooming (and then I catch sight of myself in one of the trillions of harshly-lit mirrors and realise that actually, I’m not even reasonably attractive either).
This place seemed a little easier to process and a bit more like it existed in the normal world rather than being a self-contained one on its own. I’ve already used this comparison; it’s a bit of a family joke. This time it was Sausage who said, as we glided up the escalator, ‘Ooh, it’s not too much like Logan’s Run in here’. High praise indeed.