It’s official – reading the comments section of any website is bad for you. I am living proof of this. I most often read the comments on the Guardian, New Statesman and Telegraph websites. As such, I now walk the streets of Nottingham with my pushchair believing that everyone else hates me because I chose to have a child.
The comments pages bring out the worst in everyone and yet, after a while, they become like some kind of self fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps I did choose the pushchair or pram system because I wanted to show off, perhaps I do think I have a God-given right to go into coffee shops in the daytime, perhaps my child is a hideous monster and I’m a wishy-washy liberal that can’t see it.
I say this because I had an exhausting day and yet, relating it to S in the evening, it didn’t sound as bad. He seemed to think I was imagining things. I’m still not sure.
It started off ok, although E was in intrepid exploring mode which meant she fell over twice before we’d left the house (she hasn’t got the hang of breaking her fall with her hands yet, she falls on her head.) But it was a lovely sunny day and we decided to walk to town, E clutching a Maisy library book, both of us enjoying the day and the exercise. We stopped off at our local knitting shop, got some advice and wool, and carried on.
From then on, the day went downhill. No-one seems to think struggling through a heavy glass door with a pushchair is anything less than an entertainment laid on for them while they drink coffee and no-one watching a small child pull down a pushchair onto the floor thought it would be nice to help the child’s mother pick the pushchair up. I had to apologise for other people being in my way in a busy shop, apologise for saying excuse me in order to get past them and then had someone push in front of me in a queue.
I decided we needed to have a nice relaxing lunch. We struggled through another glass door to a pizza place and sat two tables away from a couple who looked at E, downed their coffee and left. Now I don’t know if I’m being paranoid but by now I was tired. And I was sick of feeling like I was a bother to other people when I was just trying to get a bit of shopping done. And I hated their assumptions that E would disturb them. If they’d stayed they’d have seen that she waited for her food nicely by reading the Gruffalo and then ate her pizza very quietly and didn’t throw it about or yell or anything. All day, despite it not being very interesting for her, she’d been well behaved – even trying on coats in Zara for winter (we got her a lovely parka I’m quite jealous of) she was good, running about in the store but not badly.
It was at that point, when I was cross and thinking sad paranoid thoughts that I realised I’d lost my purse. My plan for after lunch was to go to the bookshop and let E enjoy herself for a while so I could do some research for children’s books (I’m doing a Christmas review feature for another blog, hopefully.) Instead we were looking about traipsing around trying to find it and hope it had been handed in by an honest person.
The purse didn’t have my cards in but did, for once, contain cash, as well as my bus pass, my library card, driving licence, a thousand small things like stamps, my Caffe Nero loyalty card and some souvenir things that I hadn’t got round to taking out – like my Glastonbury ticket, some gig tickets and the tickets to the knitting workshop I did with my mum last month.
The people in Zara looked at me with the face of people who’ve never had a bad day. And so we went to the Works (I’d bought my nephew some paints in there for a Christmas present.) The till assistant looked at me and said “You look familiar,” I said, “Have you had a purse handed in?” and she smiled. They had it, they’d tried to find a phone number and were worried as “it’s got everything in it, hasn’t it?” I’d left it on the cash desk like a pillock. I thanked them effusively and tweeted their HO account so hopefully they’ll get a corporate thumbs up. So then we went to the bookshop.
The rest of the afternoon was much better. E looked at all sorts of books, I did some research, we spoke to some old friends who still work there and then got the bus home. E was fast asleep by the time we got there. I was just exhausted.
See, it doesn’t sound like much, does it? And I don’t expect people to hold doors open or rush to my assistance but on the other hand, when did it become so acceptable to be rude? Wouldn’t it be better all round if we were just nicer to each other?
Anyway, as you can tell, the day wasn’t all bad – the pizza was good, E was angelic and the service in The Works, Knit Nottingham and Waterstone’s was ace. My hopeless self just chooses to worry about the other stuff more.