Wednesday 8 July 2009

More than a bit of a bastard

14st 10lb, 4.0 units. Somehow I managed to sleep through Mrs H finally coming to bed at 1, and the two further milk-bearing excursions she made to the nursery (formerly my study) during the night. However, I was woken at one point by her making crying noises in her sleep that sounded exactly like The Baby, and at another by her attempting to burp me. I would perhaps have minded less about that if she had tried a bit of suckling first. Clearly night and day are merging into one, and we are all becoming mere bit players in the central drama of our child’s requirements for nourishment and entertainment.

I surprised myself this morning by being polite to one of Mrs H’s friends who turned up unexpectedly on the doorstep holding a carrier bag containing a gift for The Baby. Though not, perhaps, as much as I surprised the visitor and Mrs H. My good mood persisted until I found myself in an unusually long lunchtime queue in the local sandwich shop behind a builder type and a couple of young women of the borderline scratter class. Another builder type then came in, followed by a third who noisily assaulted the second one in a way I found shocking and offensive, but everyone else seemed to consider a rollicking good lark. Clearly I am out of tune with this locality, which made it handy that I was only buying the sandwiches to provide us with a quick intake of fuel before we set off for Northumberland. It seemed to take forever to load the car with a mountain of Baby-related crap, but we eventually made it onto the road a touch before mid-afternoon.

I was tired by the time we set off, the M62 proved to be closed for some undefined reason, and I was troubled by twinges of a stabbing pain in my knee that I recognized from the dim and distant past. My private GP in London had referred me, rather comically, to a specialist sports injury clinic in Harley Street, where they came up with the depressing diagnosis that my problem was cartilage trouble caused by my legs not being exactly straight, or of equal length, or something of the sort. I forget exactly which, though I do remember them telling me that I should be wearing specially made shoes, and giving me build-up things to wear inside my existing ones when I explained that handmade shoes from John Lobb were sadly a bit beyond me (£2,400 plus VAT for a pair of leather brogues now, according to their website). They also gave me deep heat treatment and prescribed a programme of exercise, which resulted in the pain finally going away. Naturally I was supposed to keep up the shoe inserts and exercises to prevent a recurrence, and equally naturally I did no such thing.

Thus I now found myself tired, frustrated and in increasing pain, with the ticking time-bomb of a Baby that was about to scream its head off lolling in a safety seat in the back of the car. What was a chap to do but reduce his lovely young wife to tears by banging on about his misery, and the possibilities of divorce? So by the time we had done about 20 miles on the M6 I was tired, frustrated and in increasing pain, with the added bonus of feeling like a total bastard.

Still, we reached home in time for Coronation Street despite an unscheduled additional stop for a Baby feed and nappy change in a singularly unprepossessing picnic area off the A69, and found a bottle of chilled pink champagne waiting in the fridge to celebrate The Baby’s safe arrival in God’s own country and the land of his forefathers. So, as so often in life, things could have been a great deal worse.

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