Day 161

Level 2 Chi Kung.

An unsatisfying start to the day. Sometimes during the week I, for various reasons, end up going to bed later and later and becoming correspondingly sleep deprived. Because the weekends don’t usually offer much opportunity for catching up on sleep, and given the strong evidence base for the health, wellbeing and productivity benefits of naps, I will sometimes take the opportunity to get a bit of extra sleep when I get home from the school run. I tried this today but, unfortunately I had only been asleep for 20 minutes when I was woken by the phone. Now, it’s bad enough to be woken by someone you want to hear from: friends or family or a tradesman who’s call you’ve been waiting for. It is significantly worse to be woken by one of those scam computer repair calls where they tell you that your computer has been sending out viruses every time you turn it on and you need to give them X amount of money to fix it. I recognised at once that it was a scam. Of course, having married the tech support, I would never pay someone else to fix my computer, so I was quite safe even if I had believed the caller to be genuine! Annoying though – I loathe scammers who call people at home, as they so often end up preying on the elderly and other vulnerable people. I spent the rest of the day wading through the hundreds of responses to my ad for a cleaner. I was really tempted to avoid this by getting someone from an agency but the problem with that is, you end up paying £10 an hour but the poor cleaner only gets minimum wage. Far better to give the £10 directly to the cleaner. It can be heartbreaking though – having to turn down people who could obviously do the job and are clearly desperate – but I can only take one.

Things perked up in the afternoon as I had agreed to help out Sinniqua, the mother of Katie’s little Finnish friend Elias, by collecting Elias from school and bringing him home for some dinner before taking him and Katie to their trampolining class at 6pm. Elias is a nice little boy – white blond and a little chubby, he looks rather reminiscent of Moomin Troll! – and very easy to have around. Unfortunately I had forgotten that we had a social worker coming to discuss additional support for Jack. As we got home from school, the social worker had just arrived, early, on a bike. In the darkness, Katie saw a tall thin man in a reflective jacket, cried ‘Daddy!’ and raced over and threw her arms around him! I rescued the SW and told him that he was welcome to put his bike through the garden gate for safety. He said that would be great and then, in spite of having been warned about the dog, swung the gate wide open. Dash then hurled himself through the gate in front of the SW and the SW made some remark indicating he thought that was a bit rude. Of course it was actually very quick thinking on Dash’s part as he had raced through in order to stop the dog from escaping. I can’t now remember which science fiction writer named his house ‘Chaos Manor’ (Carl Sagan? Isaac Asimov?) but I sometimes wish I’d got there first!

I got everyone inside and started the process of trying to brief the SW while preparing three different dinners for Jack, Katie and Elias (Dash fetched his own dinner). By the time everyone was fed, the SW was just about finished so I left him with Nick and started bundling Katie and Elias back into their coats to go out to trampolining. Katie and Elias had been chattering non-stop about a Christmas party due to take place at Clara’s house after trampolining, but, given Katie’s history of arranging parties at our place without telling me, I had been unconvinced. However, when we got to trampolining it turned out that there really was an impromptu party planned, so I left Elias and Katie in the care of the other mummies and raced home to gather up whatever I could find for our contribution: a couple of bottles of wine for the mummies, and hot chocolate and marshmallows and crisps for the children. Back to trampolining again just in time for everyone to decamp to Clara’s for pikkujoulu – the Finnish tradition of ‘small Christmas’. We were certainly an international group: a Finnish actress, a Russian journalist, a French childminder and her Italian husband, and me. I mentioned how impressed I had been with the impact on my niece of going to an international school, and how I had felt a bit wistful about that – until I realised that Katie’s school pretty much is an international school – without the hefty fees!  We drank mulled wine and ate lovely food and the children put on a show for us (with little Elias taking his role as the only male dancer very seriously). We all agreed that, although we all love and sometimes miss the countries we come from, we are very lucky indeed to live in this lovely, leafy part of London.

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