How to Talk to Children

OK, so Friday evening at 6pm I loaded a Hubby, a baby, a decorated cake, a victoria pancake sandwich, a pot of plum toffee jam and 6 photographs into the car, and we drove 23 miles, in the rain, to Moreton-in-Marsh, where a cheery chap who was stood in the showground gateway getting torrentially pissed on informed us chirpily that the show was not happening. Cancelled. Mudbathed. Rained off. Except for cakes! Cakes were still happening! Moreton town hall had been co-opted at short notice. So we trundled off to the town hall, which was ever so shut. So then we went to the show office, which was chaos. Yes, cakes and jam were still happening, but could only be delivered  in the morning. No, there wasn’t space for photographs. Oh.

So we drove 23 miles home, in the rain, glumly, with a bored, tired and screaming baby.

And the next morning we got up and drove 23 miles, in the rain, back to Moreton. I delivered the two cakes – making sure that no-one actually saw me and my less-than-appealing victoria sandwich together – and then I had a bad attack of OMG-it-will-poison-the-judge-paranoia, and didn’t enter my pot of alleged jam after all. I really couldn’t see the point. 

We then carried on to Oxford and had a wander about, in the rain, until lunchtime. I have been hankering to visit Christ Church college for ages, but I still didn’t get further than the entrance,


as the place is apparently liberally strewn with steep steps and supposedly swallows pushchairs whole. Harry would have been delighted to jettison the hated vehicle – in which he writhed and struggled and grizzled for most of the day – and continue scurrying forward on his hands and knees, but the bulldog in the bowler hat didn’t look too keen. So we carted Harry off to a distinctly inferior cafe where he insisted upon cruising noisily among the chairs, patting either the empty seats or the occupants’ bottoms. He instantly adopted his accustomed strychnined-starfish stance


(with added helping of aggrieved roars) when attempts were made either to limit the scope of his marauding, or sit him on our laps. Our bill, unsurprisingly, appeared promptly, without us having to summon it.

After another 30 minutes of strolling, in intermittent rain, among the shops, Harry’s crescendo of tired howls and wriggles were becoming aggravating, so we bunged him into the car (Immediate snores! But why? They’re both moving chairs with a view!) and headed back, in heavy rain, to Moreton.

Now, I had, admittedly, rather been pinning my rosette hopes on the decorated cake. I usually do fairly well in the photography, and have won the odd edible class before, but the cake decorating was a brand new class this year and therefore I had vaguely thought that I’d be the only one to make an effort with it.

Now, although it’s pretty enough, because I know what this cake was supposed to turn out like, I can see plenty of things wrong with it. The thing was, you see… so could the judge. Because I didn’t win. I didn’t come second, either. Or third. Oh… erm… bugger. That’s disappointing, then.

This came first. There’s a lot of work here – and an awful lot of plasticine, too. I think there is an actual cake under there somewhere. But I’m not sure.

This came second – and I really do like this cake. I don’t actually mind losing to this one. The waves were rather cool.

And this came third.

I was a bit miffed about this one. I mean, yes, it has a extremely nicely-done foliage spray, very seasonal, yes, because summer’s well and truly fucked right off for this year now, and the ribbon matched, and the icing was nice and smooth, yes… but… but… mine took longer! and… and… and… I didn’t win! ANYTHING! They took my trusty photo classes away! I had to win this class just to win anything at all! And I didn’t! And… but… and… but…

We edged past the throngs of elderly battleaxes bastions of the WI, toward the Victoria sponges. I was expecting no accolades here, which was useful, because there weren’t any. Hubby amused himself by by picking mine out whilst still at a distance simply from my description – dark and flat. Meh.

Anyhoo, after a few minutes of moping and a jutting lower lip, I totally got a life, and went for a wander around the children’s exhibits on the ground floor. We liked this particular dude

and this chap deserved his first place, I felt.

We had 40 minutes to go before we could take my abject failures home and Harry was getting totally fed up of being carried in Hubby’s arms, so we scuttled across the – rainy – road to an adjacent hotel. The lounge to this place was a oasis of peace and tranquility – until we fetched up in it. The couple who had been blissfully ensconced in two squashy wells of leather comfort huddled deeper into their newspapers, and attempted to blot us out. I felt for them, as that once was me. But now, I am the inflicter of a litany of Child. Oh yes.

Harry sweetheart, don’t pull on the newspaper stand, it’ll… oh. Oh dear. Never mind, sit on Mummy’s lap and Mummy kiss it better. You want to get down now? Ouch. You really don’t have to hit Mummy in the boob, Harry. Pull that chair around, John, so he can cruise about in a circle. Oh, he can pull it about himself! Strong baby! Yes, it doesmake a good scrapey noise, doesn’t it? No, it won’t go any further, darling, you’ve pushed it nearly up against that gentleman’s… NO, Harry! I do apologise, has he spilt it? Come here, Harry. That’s right, stand by Daddy’s chair. Yes, those are Daddy’s laces, you like undoing those, don’t you? No, don’t let him crawl under… oh, he’s gone already. Give him my handbag to play with, but can you just pull that zip closed… oh God, he’s got my tampons out. Stop him, John, before he rips the paper off. He can have the car keys instead… yes they make a nice noise, don’t they, sweetie? Maybe you could play a little quieter with them, though? Careful now, don’t… oh crap, has he bent the ignition key? Oh, coffee, lovely, thank you. Yes, he’s into everything, isn’t he? He’s just at that age! Oh, biscuits too, fabulous. John, look out for your plate, he’s after your… ah. Yes, you’ve lost that. It’s a bit chobbly for him, maybe he’d better have a baby rusk instead… give it back, Harry, Mummy has a yummy rusk here for you… no, no… give it back… no… swopsies, Harry, look… nice rusk… no… Ouch! Fine, keep the biscuit then. Get off, you bugger, those are mine, you shouldn’t have let the boy steal yours. Oh, don’t drop it, you silly boy. Look, it’s rolled over here. No, no, Mummy doesn’t want it back now, it’s all wet and stic… can you pass the napkin, please? Thanks. What’s he found under that chair? Has he put it in his mouth? Harry! Harry! Quick, if you stand by the armchair I’ll corner him by the fireplace. Has he bit you? Again? Yes, but has he spat anything out? Oh. Well, he’s swallowed it then. Look, he’s sat still now, maybe he’d sit on your lap for a little bit… No, Harry, you can’t have Daddy’s coffee. Hot, burn, bad! Grrrr! Play with Daddy’s biscuit wrapper, look. What’s the matter? Oh. Really?  Umm. That’s why he sat still to concentrate, then. It can’t smell that bad, surely? Well, put him back down, then, I’ll find somewhere to change him as soon as I’ve drunk my… is that a new biscuit he’s got, or the one that went on the floor? Oh, actually, it doesn’t matter, he’s just rubbing it into the floorboards. Yes, Harry, that’s some very good babbling. Quite loud babbling, too. Don’t pull at your nappy, sweetie, it only makes things worse. Mummy knows you’re excited about your biscuit crumbs, yes. Don’t squeak quite so loud, darling. God, it does smell, doesn’t it? Maybe I’d better…Oh! You’ve brought our bill over. Thanks, that’s very kind…

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