Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Bear and baby

It's ok, he missed your hair, said ex-housemate S today as baby Tungsten chucked up over my shoulder in Modern Art Oxford. It's mostly on your top, your coat and your bag.

She took him off to change his nappy and I dabbed around in my hood with a Wet One, feeling a little squeamish but glad he's not on solids yet.

He is, however, teething, and really bloody grumpy. The best way to get around town was with one of us practising a range of silly walks involving the magic bounce factor, and the other manoevering the empty pushchair, which gradually filled up with surplus clothing, library books and tuna steaks. It's easier to plough into the ankles of teenagers who are blocking doorways and ignoring your 'excuse me please's' if you don't actually have the baby, and then the person who does can fall in behind. Neat.

The last purchase we had to make was a new plug for S's vacuum cleaner, and I directed her to Gill's the Ironmongers, one of my favourite shops. It's down Wheatsheaf Alley, and as she squeezed the pushchair past the scaffolding I said 'how about a quick half?'. Sure, she said, I'll meet you in there, so Tungsten and I wandered in, but the Wheatsheaf doesn't like babies and wouldn't serve me.

I'll see you outside the Bear, I said and we carried on up the alley. S arrived shortly afterwards and fetched beer. Maybe it was her lager going straight to his head but Tungsten fell asleep as soon as she'd fed him, and we sat there in the humid overcast afternoon and talked about old times. Which we don't do very often but I've had them on my mind recently.

First: I got an email a few weeks ago from E, who I went out with when I was 15. He was older than me (18, but that was a lot in the 80s) and I hadn't really been out with anyone before. Don't go there, said various well meaning people (including ex-housemate-then-schoolmate S), he's on the rebound and you'll get hurt. I have never been any good at listening to well meaning people but in this case they were right, in that I did get hurt, and I always assumed that he didn't really notice or care, and never gave me a thought thereafter. It was odd (but good) to find out 22 years later that there was a bit more to it than that. I am a little sad for my 15 year old self, who settled for less than she should've for a fair while afterwards, but happy to have the long view.

Second: my Significant Ex emailed me a few months ago asking if I'd sort out the photos from our relationship and send them off to be scanned so he can have copies. It's a fair request, but it's taken me a while to get round to it. I have maybe 100 packets of photos stored in a box in my room. They cover the period 1983 (when I first got a camera) to 2003 (when I first got a digital camera). I started the job last week, and it's been hard work on my back and on my eyes (are those tears? or just dust and grit?). So far I have divided the packets into three piles: 1983-1989 (pre-Significant Ex), 1989-98 (during) and 1998-2003. The 89-98 pile needs further sorting. The pre-89 pile is full of school photos, including many of S, (though only one of E, blurry, taken in the pub). Today she said 'I should get some copies of those'.

How times change. She is famous for keeping nothing, yet now she is the one with the baby. Another? I said, but as I came back with them (she was drinking halves, before anyone writes to the Breastfeeding Police) the heavens opened. I went into the pub and said 'can we bring a baby in here?'. Sure, they said, if you can get in through our 13th century door. There was about 2mm either side, and we parked up in the no smoking area, taking up about 80% of the available space and blocking access to the Gents.

When we emerged it was into what Mick the builder would call a terminal piss down situation. We had brief respite on the bus but then I made my farewells, pulled my still-damp-from-baby-sick hood up and leapt out into sheeting rain. It was pelting so hard that my normally extremely efficient Dutch trainers started leaking from the top. By the time I got home, every part of me that wasn't covered by my trusty North Face jacket was piss wet through.

I struggled slightly on the doorstep, and dropped my keys. M opened the door. I wasn't expecting him to be in. Hello! I giggled. I'm wet and drunk! So you are, he said, that's quite impressive for 5.30. I took off my wet clothes and put them in the washing machine, then fell asleep under a blanket on the sofa. He woke me up a couple of hours later with a glass of red and tuna steak au poivre. I'm still not sure what I did to deserve this.

joella

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Dear Joella,

It would only be fair to point out that E is not the same E to whom you refer in your blog of 21st May, 2006. God forbid.

Regards

Simon

10:38 am  
Blogger Jo said...

No, that's absolutely true. E was hanging around the running track with Melanie whatsherface at the time.

4:18 pm  

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