>> Thursday, 10 April 2008
It's been quiet on the Frontline recently. Too quiet. I knew it couldn't last. And this afternoon, the ceasefire was breached...
The battleground: the back seat of our car.
It had been a peaceful afternoon. Well, as peaceful as it can get when you fit in the nursery pick-up, a quick dash home to hang out the laundry, and rushing to the leisure centre for Boy #1's swimming lesson. But overall, calm. (Excluding the tonka toy in the face incident whilst strapping Boy #1 into his car-seat at nursery pick-up, which caused more than a slight sense of humour failure on my part... But I don't think the bruising on my lip will last more than a couple of days).
So, as we walked back to the car after Boy #1's successful lesson of jumping, floating, and underwater dragons (I know, I have no idea what that is either), there was no inkling of the storm that lay ahead.
Boy #2 was toddling along, one of his hands in mine, the other clutching the remains of an apple that he'd been gnawing at for the last 15 minutes. Now, for some reason, he views an apple as one of the greatest treats it is possible to lay his sticky little paws on. I know. I have produced an angel, you say? Just wait...
Lifting him into the car, the apple was knocked from his hand. Not the whole apple - just the 15% of it that was left. It rolled under the car. It was nearly finished. It was now filthy. It was, essentially, an ex-apple. And there was no way that I was going to get down on my hands and knees to retrieve this ex-apple.
Boy #2, of course, had other ideas.
I strapped him in.
"Ap! Ap! Ap!" he started as I walked round to the other side of the car to secure Boy #1.
"He wants his apple, Mama." Boy #1 said helpfully. "I know. But it's gone, Boy #2. It's op (Dutch for finished, in case you were wondering). You can have another when we get home." I climbed into the front seat and started reversing out.
"Ap! Mama! Ap! Ap! Ap!" (Is she deaf? Look, I can see it - it's just there, lying on the ground...)
I pulled out of the car park. "It's gone, Boy #2. I'm sorry, but it's finished."
"Ap! Nee! Ap! Ap! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP!" (I can't believe it! Doesn't she recognise an outright order when she hears one? Get back there, right now, and pick it up!)
"Is it a plane, Boy #2? Do you want your plane?" This from Boy #1, waving a plastic plane at his brother and - bless him - frantically trying to diffuse the situation. I pulled out onto the main road. In the distance, I could hear air-raid sirens beginning to sound.
"Nee! No payne! Aaaaaaaaap!" (That's it, I've asked them nicely, no more Mr Nice Guy. Attack!) "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPP!"
On the Frontline the plane was flying low along the road towards us. The rattle of it's machine guns were becoming increasingly audible. In my peripheral vision I was able to see the little puffs of dust the approaching bullets were making as they hit pavement on either side of Ladbroke Grove. There was only one option - to head for home. But something made me glance over my shoulder, and what I saw made my blood run cold.
Boy #2 was out of his straps. (Well, just his upper body, you understand. But still. Hardly ideal - or safe).
The noise level hit new highs as I screeched to a halt, hazard lights flashing, and dashed round to the other side of the car to resecure Boy #2. Tears were flooding down his bright red face. I could hear bombs starting to explode in the near distance. I saw a passing cyclist veer erratically as a particularly loud blast from Boy #2 coincided with my opening the door to force his arms back under the straps.
I got back in the car. The shelling continued, down Holland Avenue, and onto the top of Earls Court Road. This must stop soon - surely he's forgotten what he got so upset about in the first place?
We turned left. Not far now. "He's out of his straps again Mama!" I pulled over, repeated the hazard light routine, and resecured my little angel.
"Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" (This is torture like no other. Where's my bloody apple?)
A botoxed mummy in a black 4 x 4 looking as if she was going to give me a mouthful for obstructing the traffic thought better of it when she heard the battle in full force. I sprinted back to the front of the car and pulled away in a haze of burnt rubber, hoping to make it across the lights and the last few yards home before the next attack. I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw Boy #1 stoically reading Mr Strong, trying to ignore the shrieks and whistling as the blasts continued around us.
There was a pause, and an intake of breath from Boy #2. Oh no, we're not going to make it. So near, and yet so far. The Hurricane is making another pass and has us firmly in it's sights now - we're toast.
Silence. And then...
Home at last, I parked the car.
The Hurricane waggled it's wings in salute and flew on.
Did that make any sense? I'm still shell-shocked...