Today was supposed to be all about taking my middle daughter for a day out in London – just the two of us. I have taken the eldest, and youngest daughters on days out, but somehow she has fallen through the cracks. Given her prediliction for being both her own worst enemy, and for picking fights with me, I thought it might be time to invest some time in her, to remind her that I’m not a complete ogre (because I’m pretty sure that’s how she has viewed me in recent weeks).
I surprised her at 7am this morning – waking her with a start, and asking if she might like to come to London with me for the day – to look around the museums, and to have some fun.
“But I’m supposed to going to the Church lunch with Mum”
“I asked Mum – she said it’s fine”
She looked at me like she was about to say “thanks but no thanks”, so I rolled out my winning hand:
“We can go to M&M World”
“I’m getting up”
I wandered downstairs, walked into the kitchen, and closed my eyes in despair. During the night the cats had disassembled a bird in the kitchen – in much the same manner Hannibal Lecter might have. Feathers everywhere, and a half eaten body splayed out across the floor. The cats were pretending it had nothing to do with them, and were sitting patiently waiting for me to give them some dried food.
If anybody looked out at about 7:15am, they would have seen me tip-toeing up our drive in my underwear to dump a bag of bird remains into the rubbish. I don’t *think* anybody saw me.
Half an hour later I found myself hopping around the kitchen in my underwear, busting for the toilet while she did whatever it is that 12 year old girls do in the shower FOR HALF AN HOUR. I eventually opened the door, and shouted “HURRY UP!” at her, which seemed to have the desired effect.
While wandering through the back streets en-route to the railway station, we talked about where we might go in London. I almost convinced her that the RAF museum would be fantastic, filled with all manner of aircraft, until I reminded myself that the day was supposed to be for her – not for me.
We arrived at the railway station with a good few minutes to spare, which was miraculous really, given that I discovered Miss 12 playing on a Nintendo DS when she should have been looking for her shoes. The tone of her reaction to chasing her would have made most people think I had just asked for the labours of Hercules.
And a little while after that, the entire day went hilariously wrong. We changed trains at Maidenhead, and looked up at the public information screens. All the trains were delayed. All of them. We used the time to go and buy a coffee, and some snacks while waiting to see what was going to happen. After half an hour we gave up and walked.
I should perhaps put a word in for the man running the coffee stand at Maidenhead station. After being carefully watched making my coffee by Miss 12, who could see over the counter if she stood on tip-toes, he pulled a cardboard box onto the counter, and gave my daughter not a single cookie to go with her drink, but an entire fistful of cookies. He then delved in again, and returned another fistful. You would have thought all her Christmases had come at once.
After sitting in the warm of a communal waiting area, watching the minutes tick by for some considerable time, we decided to call it a day. We walked from the railway station towards town, and headed off in search of new and interesting shops to peruse. It didn’t help that it was still quite early, and that most shops in the UK don’t open until 11am on Sundays.
We might not have made it as far as London, but I have to give Miss 12 credit for not being too downhearted about it. She carried on like a trooper, and emptied my pockets quite expertly in the second hand video game store down the road from the railway station.
Tomorrow we will try once again. I will scrape myself out of bed at 7am, and we will once again try to complete the journey into London. We’re aiming to arrive in the viscinity of South Kensington at about the same time the Natural History and Science Museums open their doors.
No doubt I will have further stories to tell.