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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16 Responses

  1. Ohhhhhhhh, dear, I laughed so hard I whacked my knee on the underside of the desk. Ohhhhhhhhhh. *sigh*. *Wipe tears from eyes* Eh heh heh heh.

    I once pretended to be a camel in a French restaurant to keep my niece from shredding the place. A camel. In front of dishy waiters. I will never forgive the child.

    Bad luck with the cakes (sodding weather. Honestly. SODDING weather). Your decorated cake was INFINITELY superior to the foliage spray one. INFINITELY. Gah.

    I remember developing a pout like the beak of a penguin’s when my colour-work hand-knitted sweater lost to a MACHINE-KNITTED skirt and cardigan. MACHINE-KNITTED. Stormed about the rest of the Fete like a hornet on cocaine. Made assorted plans to accidentally tip the judge’s car into the duck-pond. Was taken home and plied with sherry until I shut up. It took quite a lot of sherry.

  2. Sorry you didn’t place for the cakes. I agree with May, your cake was so much better than that autumn spray.

    Switch Harrys name to Graeme and I swear it was me sitting in the hotel. Must be something to do with all kids born on August 3/07. Or just all 1 year olds in general.

    Christ Church is a beautiful place. I was there the last time I was in the UK visiting family and did a tour.

  3. Ah, that’ll be Morton UNDER Marsh again then.

    I got 20/20 from the WI for one of my Moebius scarves, May

    West Yorkshire’s full of signs saying “Show Cancelled” this weekend…

    I’d better run and hide in case May gets back.

    Aphra.

  4. I think your cake is much nicer, prettier etc than any of the 3 that won. Very pretty.

  5. um, oh *my*

    Remind me just how frazzled I shall be with two toddlers at once when I’m complaining about two neonates who quite frankly stay where I left them last….. 🙂

    I’ll be sure to enjoy this phase and await motor delevopment with far less enthusiasm!

    J

  6. Your cake is gorgeous, can you show us the other photos you took, as the 3 you put up earlier were beautiful.

  7. Yes, the judges at Morton-under-Marsh (and under lots of water from above as well apparently) clearly don’t know their elbow from their pastel royal icing. If I’d been judging you would have got the blue ribbon for sure.

    And as for the Litany of Child, I nearly wept at the memories that brought back. Nearly, but not quite.

  8. I love fancy cakes, wish I was good at them. I kinda try but I suck.

  9. Well I am extremely impressed with your cake, you definately should have won.

    Your account of the coffee shop is excellent!

  10. Your cake is amazing, and you should’ve won a prize simply for your ability to concoct such a cake with a toddler in the house.

  11. you were robbed. That first cake (the winner of first place) was terrible. I’ll call for a re-count if you’d like.

  12. I have to agree that you were robbed. That first cake’s colors are off, and has way too many decorations for the sake of decorations. And third place while it appears to be technically well done lacks imagination. Second place and yours both show skill and imagination, both things important in cake decorating. My first job was as a cake decorator and I worked at that from age 14 through my late 20s, eventually up to wedding cakes, etc. I quit that once went back to college and became a nurse but like to think I have kept some of my skills by decorating for family and friends. Anyway, I can recognize a nice cake and yours was much better that third and my guess is that the first place cake must have had political connections!

  13. I would have given you first place for sure, the other cakes, with the exception of the fisherman were so…blah.
    Come across the pond and I’ll take Harry for an outing so you can have a breather. He can play with (be tortured by) my children.

  14. God. I have so much to say about this. Will try and be brief.
    1. Moreton show! I know! My dad was soooo disappointed. I love Moreton show.
    2. The judges are morons. Yours is the best, and the third prize just totally sucks. Crapola. Bad bad bad. Ok, the wave cake is ok.
    3. Wow. Why on earth didn’t you enter MY village fête. We would have covered you in Belgian prizes! Enter next year. You must.
    4. Carved veg. God, I love carved veg. Again, can I refer you to my village fete. The penguin is excellent.
    5. My life is littered with victoria pancakes. Or communion wafers as I usually call them. Dammit.
    6. Oxford instead of Moreton show – poor substitute. I never saw a single carved vegetable or well tended sheep in 3 years there.
    7. I love your stream of child. I get so sick of the sound of my own voice sometimes I just want to hit myself hard enough to make it stop.

  15. You were totally ripped off and EVERYONE KNOWS IT. That third place was totally dodgy and is obviously a judge’s niece or somesuch. Harry and his biscuits was hilarious. It will get better that eating in public thing, keep perservering. You will start filling your handbag with things like small cars, finger puppets and, most successful of all, balloons to be blown up at moment’s notice.

  16. the cartoons are a riot. i wish the adverts here were remotely funny, then we could lighten up a bit.
    😉

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