I worked the whole bank holiday.
I didn’t mind too much; I’d had to stay at home during the height of the sudden heatwave and had ploughed my way through numerous box-sets on telly, fanning myself with one of The Teenager’s discarded school files.
I was hot, bored and bothered. MS heat intolerance is miserable.
Friday was The Teenager’s last official day at school. Ever. I unpinned his timetable from the notice board in the kitchen with a deep, sad sigh. I woke him up for school for the last time, waved him off to his last ever school assembly, with his last ever lunch money in his pocket. He popped back briefly a couple of hours later and I daubed his face with camouflage make-up, hung dog tags around his neck and waved him off again.
He was taking part in the Sixth Form Leaver’s tradition – a pub crawl around the local area, ending up in the city centre. This year’s theme was ‘military’ (last year’s was ‘American Football’). There’s a long road between pubs outside my house and every year I see the endless line of kids walking past, chanting loudly. Perhaps with Manchester in mind, watching the procession of students walk past dressed in various forms of khaki, singing ‘Don’t Take Me Home‘ made me cry.
That was 2pm. I heard him come back home at 3am, rise again at 5am and leave to get the train/bus/tram to Manchester to watch one of his favourite bands at Old Trafford. Plus, he’d remembered to lock the door and let the cat out. Impressive.
Anyway, on my way to work this morning I stopped off at a local shop to pick up some lunch. I was wandering around the aisles, debating microwave lasagna vs. chicken pieces when, wham, I went flying. Foot drop? Nope. Someone had left an empty basket in the aisle, one of those wire ones, so not readily visible. I picked myself up, a little bruised and embarrassed. I heard laughter. I turned round and the woman at the counter was looking at me and … laughing.
Not asking if I was ok, not coming over to help. She stayed behind the counter. Laughing. I kicked the basket. It knocked into a display of sun-cream (Are You Protected?) which wobbled a bit and a few bottles fell off. I kicked them too, the irony of sun cream too much to bear.
I picked up some chicken pieces and went to the counter. She was still laughing. I asked if she was serious. She said, ‘You wha’?’, raised an eyebrow, finished checking her phone and rang through my items with a studious boredom that was actually pretty impressive.
I got to my car. Took several deep breaths. I should have gone back. I could have kicked myself along with the sun-cream.