It was one of those days when we had to divide and conquer to keep both the kids happy. Pickle had been selected to play in a football tournament a little way out of town and last time we tried to make such an event a family affair all we got was grief and aggro from Her Highness about how boring it was and 'Can we go now?' every 5 minutes.
So instead Nobby took the boy and we girlies settled on the sofa for some Dr Who and a bite to eat, which was great until Tiggy decided she was a girly too and planted her big arse on Poppet's lap and her head in my armpit.
Now, last weekend I ordered some new glasses so I was very excited about going to collect them and Poppet was very excited about going to a shopping centre with Mummy, who doesn't yet have Nobby's gifted mastery of the word 'No' when it comes to all things pretty that she sets her heart on.
Besides, this week we've abandoned sticker charts as bribery tools for good behaviour given that they don't get as excited about colourful bits of gummed paper these days as they do about shiny coins and paper with large numbers on them. I've been getting a lot of coffee made for me this week and I haven't had to nag about homewok as much but it really hit my wallet when I totted it all up this morning; I don't remember them being that good.
Well, I was very disappointed in Vision Express when my gorgeous new glasses, which were supposed to make me look like a proper intellectual teacher at last, had a fault on the lenses and had to be sent back. The bl**dy ridiculous thing is that they called me to tell me they were ready - hello? ever heard of quality control?? Sheesh. Of course I had to sit and wait while the bouncy blonde who bounded over to serve me when I walked in had to go off in search of someone who spoke English, though why she thought I couldn't work out on my own that the glasses had to go back when I couldn't see through them I'm really not sure.
Still a trip to the cobblers with Nobby's shoes pepped me up; the guy spoke wonderful English and did the job nice and quick. I would seriously like to clone that man and have one in every establishment at that particular shopping centre.
Because then, we stupidly went to the supermarket to get some milk and beer (an odd combination but both essential in our house.) I have never seen people more miserable in their work than the women on the checkouts in Match. Perhaps they offer a free sense-of-humour-bypass with every successful application. They certainly train them in customer contempt and utter rudeness.
As if it wasn't bad enough that Poppet announced in the cereal aisle that she's crossed another brand off her list of acceptable foods.
Her: 'Mummy, we need some chocolate Krispies because I was served (!) Cookie Crisp this morning and I don't like it any more.'
Me: 'I see. Well I'm sorry but they don't sell Krispies here. Whatever happened to your daily dose of Weetabix?' (she ate at least three faithfully every morning for YEARS until she discovered how much she liked to turn the milk chocolatey.)
Her: 'OK, fine. (sigh) I'll have Weetabix then.'
Me: '(swearing inwardly) They don't sell Weetabix here either!!'
Her: 'Right, well I'll have Cookie Crisp then.'
Me: 'But you just said you don't eat Cookie Crisp any more!'
Her: 'Can we go now?'
Once the checkout hag had swiped my purchases across the infra red and chucked them in my general direction, I dared to ask in my broken Hungarian if I could have a ticket for the free parking. Oh My God if she didn't just start swiping the next person's shopping through and spit out a rapid fire reply in monotone Hungarian without even looking at me. Now I know I look younger than I really am (I fool myself!!) but no need to treat me like a pesky child. It's not like I expect anyone to have to speak English in their own country, hence me scraping my vocabulary barrel to address them in their own tongue, but whatever happened to manners in this country?
On top of that, she had watched me take one of the Lego promotional leaflets from the top of the till, she saw me with a child, but she didn't give me the 6 stickers I had earned until I asked for them. And with much sighing and gnashing of teeth thrown in. Gordon Bennet we've come a long way from me getting irate at all the 'Books For Schools' tokens I used to get thrust upon me in Sainsbury's when I didn't have any kids and I never went near a school!
I don't go round with the word 'foreigner' stamped on my forehead; if I didn't have a child in tow that I'm kind of obliged to talk to then no-one would ever know I wasn't local. The crunch came today when we had been queing for ten minutes in a single line in C&A for the two tills that were open, a third one opened up and offered to serve me as I was next in line and some total cow from behind me literally RAN to get there first.
How I wish I'd kept up the Hungarian lessons and taken a crash course in swearing and insults. I would have earned a shiny diploma today with all the things I wanted to say at this point. I was always rather good at ranting in checkout queues in France. The rule there, if the queue jumper refuses to back down, is to keep up a persistant tirade of sarcastic comments peppered with the odd 'insupportable' and a couple of 'mal elever' (badly brought up).
Sadly all I managed here was a very loud, 'What do you think you're doing?' ... and she never even turned and looked at me. Neither did the checkout woman. Shame on both of you.
Innit great to be so welcomed in a different culture? Days like today, to quote the great Mr Billy Connolly, I feel about as welcome as a fart in a space suit.
Xmas Letter of Apology
1 day ago