Day 147

Level 2 Chi Kung. Microcosmic orbit.

The day started badly and went downhill! Dash’s bus arrived 30 minutes late – this made for a stressful start to the day as one has to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. As they are often up to 15 minutes early, this means that we were effectively on alert for 45 minutes – very tense-making, not least because it scuppered my chance of doing Chi Kung before the school run. Then, just as the bus finally arrived – and I’m not sure what she was trying to do: hug me, dance with me, the hokey kokey? – Katie stuck her left leg out, I caught my right foot on it and tripped, wrenching the injured knee and sending weeks of recovery straight down the gurgler. Then she got upset (possibly on account of the stream of unusual language issuing from her mother) and Sherlock got paranoid that he was going to be left behind again and started barking his little furry head off…

Got home from the (painfully slow) walk to school, and was in the middle of a particularly disgusting task (in consideration of anyone who might be cruising FB on a laptop while eating, I won’t go into the gruesome details) when I realised that I was standing, in stockinged feet (I don’t usually wear shoes in the house) in the middle of a sea of broken glass. Jack had apparently broken a small ship-in-a-bottle type toy and the fine splinters of glass were all over the carpet.

I thought I had better get control of things, so, by noon, I had done Chi Kung, boil-washed my clothes and taken a long hot shower. I thought I needed to focus on tasks with high job satisfaction, so I sorted some of the children’s outgrown clothes into piles for recycling, charity and storage, then packed the ones for storage with plenty of conkers to deter moths and set them aside ready to go up to the attic.

In the evening, watching Heroes with Dash in the wind-down towards bed-time, we had this conversation:

Dash: I’m really thirsty.
J: Well sweetie, feel free to help yourself to a drink.
Dash: [on sofa, under quilt, with footrest extended] Actually, I’ve just got comfy.
J: So, were you wanting me to fetch a drink for you?
Dash: [smelling a rat] Weeeeelllll …
J: Come over here sweetie and snuggle up beside me. Let me tell you about my day. So this morning I got up and got you all dressed and made sure you and Katie brushed your teeth and washed your face, and fed everyone breakfast and cleaned the kitchen and emptied the dishwasher and fed the dog and put you on the bus, and walked Katie and Sherlock to school and brought Sherlock home. Then I did [disgusting task – not sparing him the details] and realised I was standing in my socks, in a sea of broken glass. I vacuumed up the glass, washed my hands many times, boil-washed all the clothes I was wearing, did Chi Kung, had a shower, gave Jack lunch, sorted out clothes for recycling, to give away and to go in the attic, did some urgent paperwork, fed Jack some more. You got home, we went to collect Katie from film club. We got home, I fed everyone and gave Daddy some soup, then I walked Katie to Elias’ house, picked him up, went to trampoline, waited for an hour, took Elias home, brought Katie home, made a cup of coffee and a slice of toast and sat down to watch Heroes with you.
Dash: So maybe I should get my own drink?
J: That would be nice.

Once I had watched 20 minutes of Heroes with Dash, 20 minutes of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Katie, and 20 minutes of The Moomins with Jack, the children all trailed off to bed. Nick came in and we agreed to watch Bones – though watch is something of a euphemism in my case. Unless we are watching something very gripping, I tend to fall asleep in the first five minutes and wake up just in time for the denouement. Nick then briefly explains who killed whom and why, and we go upstairs to bed. My tendency to fall asleep whenever I am warm, relaxed and reasonably comfortable is a source of friction between Katie and I. She disapproves and, sadly, she is not alone. I recall in the run-up to my wedding, hugely jet-lagged, being driven somewhere by my father, who was horrified that I kept falling asleep and was quite ruthless about waking me up each time I drifted off. More recently, when one of my sisters came to stay with us in London, if she called out ‘goodnight’ on her way to bed and I, comatose with my head on Nick’s shoulder, didn’t respond, she would yell ‘goodnight’ louder and louder until I, startled awake, said ‘goodnight’ back. It is as if falling asleep anywhere other than bed is somehow morally reprehensible.

I have an aversion to people unexpectedly touching my face and especially my mouth (years of children with less-than-scrupulous hand-washing habits have no doubt made me paranoid) and, because it gets such a spectacular negative reaction, Katie will often choose this method to wake me up. So tonight, having fallen asleep five minutes into the episode of Bones as usual, when I felt something tickling my lips, my first thought was that Katie had sneaked back downstairs. But no, too wet, too hairy … Sherlock, who had been lying quietly in his dog-bed when I lay down, had seized the opportunity presented by an unguarded mummy on the sofa and was attempting to French-kiss me. Disgusting!

Looking back, my worst falling asleep experience¬†was in the first week of a new job. We were running a big learning event up north somewhere. It had been a long day of training and I hadn’t slept well the night before because my room was a small smelly single beside the hotel’s noisy air-conditioning plant. My new boss, when he discovered that we would be on the same train back to London, decided that we could have the post-conference wash-up AND my orientation meeting on the train. He was a lovely man – one of the nicest people I have ever worked for – but even his best friend would admit that he could be a bit soporific. So there I was, knackered, being gently rocked in the warm, comfortable first class carriage … Next thing I remember was him saying, with uncharacteristic sharpness, “Am I boring you?”. I had fallen asleep just as he was outlining my objectives for the next six months!

Later I found out that the team responsible for booking venues and rooms always gave the training team the crappiest rooms. I, and others, took them to task on this many times, but their leader (a woman with the rather apt email address of DramaPalmer@…) was a law unto herself. I only once got a nice room. We were training in Canary Wharf in September 2001, about a week after 9/11. The trains were all crazy and I arrived on the first day with just enough time to dump my bag at reception and get into the training room for the first plenary. It was about 7 by the time I finally got a chance to get my bag and go up to my room. I opened the door and there it was – the whole of London spread out before me. I had been given the penthouse suite. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it was widely rumoured that Canary Wharf would be the next target, and no one else had been prepared to sleep on the upper floors!

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