Saturday, 15 January 2011

A horrifying vision in pink

Rant alert...


I’m now on a train which is happily winging its way back down to London. It’s relatively crowded, and as I boarded my carriage, I realised to my abject horror that a 2-year old girl dressed in lurid fuchsia pink was sitting in my seat. Her mother asked if I was meant to be sitting there, and when I said I was, she audibly sighed. “Have you not reserved a seat?” I asked her, “for me, yes” she replied, “but not for my daughter. She'll have to sit with me.” She sighed again.

I squeezed myself into the seat, and the girl was winched onto her mother’s lap. She started screaming like a cow in labour because she wanted to sit on a proper seat and a little piece of me died. I was squashed against a window with a towering two-year-old thrashing around in the seat next to me. When she eventually calmed down, she decided to stare at me. I tried to look elsewhere but she prodded me with grubby fingers. The experience was deeply claustrophobic.

It was, however, the running commentary which nearly sent me to an early grave. "Mummy" was finding lots of interesting ways to entertain the mini-pops horror, mostly to prevent her from chanting the new word she'd obviously just learnt. That word, joy of joys, was “actually” and she said it again and again and again until I wanted to grind her face into the banana that she'd just smeared all over the table... and my scarf.

Opening my lap top was a red rag to a bull. “That man’s busy,” became the next phrase du jour. “Am I busy?” She then asked. “No” said Mummy “Is Mummy busy?” she enquired. “No, Mummy's reading a book." And we went round the circuit several times. Conversations with my Grandmother in the latter stages of Alzheimer's were more entertaining. I suppose the only positive aspect was that the devil’s spawn had learnt her personal pronouns.

I love kids. Genuinely. I'm no Grinch, but I do think we need to acknowledge that a child travelling free because she’s sitting on her mother’s lap, can cause some serious discomfort for other passengers. It’s bad enough being herded onto the cattle trucks that they call the East Coast trains, but when you’ve also got to deal with someone else’s child, who hasn’t got their own seat, the experience becomes almost unbearable...

Pepys woke up in Deptford and spent the morning observing the Navy boys doing exercises in the yard. There followed a tour of various workshops, tar houses and wet docks. Pepys, in true Pepys style, took “very great notice” of what was going on, and, no doubt, made copious notes in one of his journals.

He went home to the City and discovered his wife and sister Pall away. As the day went on, he grew more concerned that they hadn’t come home. Sometime after 10pm, however, his boy, appeared with the welcome news that all was well. Elizabeth and Pall would be staying with Mrs Hunt, a former neighbour from their days in Whitehall, who was apparently not very well.

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