Last week was half-term (or, at least, it was here in Cheshire), and we decided to spend the first few days by visiting my sister in that there London Town.
Here are ten things I learned from our trip:
1. The M6 toll road is a pointless waste of money
Now, contrary to what you may immediately think here, I actually learned this fact by not going on the M6 toll road.
Let me explain. Soon after leaving home on the Saturday morning, and joining the M6 at Sandbach, I noticed a Toyota Avensis being driven directly behind me. About two inches behind me. The car was so close, I could not only make out the maniacal grin of the deranged Oriental lady at the wheel, but I could count her teeth at the same time.
Needless to say, I took an instant dislike to her (not because she was Oriental), which was only made worse when she spent the next thirty to forty miles driving like a lunatic – undertaking, swerving in and out of lanes, driving inches behind whichever unfortunate bastard happened to be blocking her path at the time, and generally behaving like an utter bell-end.
The only difference between her and all the other bell-ends on the road, was that every time I saw her up close (which was generally in my rear view mirror, where objects may appear closer than, say, your own children on the back seat), she was laughing and chatting with her passengers, which somehow made her even more irritating. At least BMW and Audi drivers know they’re driving like arseholes, and adopt an angry ‘everyone else on the road is inferior to me’ expression when at the wheel, whereas she simply didn’t care.
And, naturally, like all undertaking arseholes on the motorway, she invariably ended up directly behind me again every few minutes.
Anyway, as we approached the part of the M6 where the lanes for the toll road split off to the right, I was dismayed to see that Crazy Toyota Bitch (not to be confused with Crazy Toyota Dwarf Bitch from my daily commute – see https://middlerageddad.com/2016/04/01/hootie-and-the-blogfish – as this particular Toyota driving bitch appeared to be of normal height), was continuing on the regular M6, with us.
It seemed that, despite being a terrible driver, she similarly begrudged spending a fiver to drive on a road no different from any of the others in the UK (apart from that really fun bit after the toll booth, where there are no lanes, and for a few glorious moments you feel like you are on a race circuit).
I started to wonder whether she was only continuing on the ‘free’ M6, because she had somehow become attached to my bumper – however, at the very last second, she suddenly cut across four lanes of traffic, in favour of the toll road.
Relieved that she had, for want of a better phrase, fucked right off, we continued on our journey, and eventually joined the M40 towards London…. only to discover – about fifty miles since she had left us – Toyota Bitch was unbelievably right behind our car again.
I have no doubt that she would have been hurtling down the toll road at speeds similar to a space shuttle launch, yet here she was, stuck behind me again some considerable distance further south.
Which just proves that the M6 toll road is a complete waste of money, as you don’t get anywhere quicker, and it costs you £5 for the privilege.
2. When your wife announces ‘There are four holes, and I have a camera’, you really shouldn’t get your hopes up
3. Isaac is part Dutch
I’ll keep this brief, as it is neither pleasant, nor explainable. I am not Dutch. My wife is not Dutch. Neither of us have ever even been to Holland.
So why does our youngest son, Isaac, insist on regularly adopting a Dutch accent to inform us that his ‘bum is schwetty’? It’s too much information anyway, and I’m not sure what he expects us to do about it (other than mop the offending derriere with a piece of kitchen roll, perhaps), but he definitely doesn’t need to adopt a Dutch accent purely for this phrase.
He’s like a mini Steve McLaren, only with better hair (which is not an accolade we often bestow on Isaac), and he would presumably do a better job of managing the England football team.
4. A ‘thumbs up’ doesn’t always mean you’re having fun
5. Our children switch roles in museums
In almost every way, our eldest son, Ollie, takes after me and my side of the family, whereas Isaac is more like my wife’s side…
… except when it comes to museums, as we discovered in the (excellent) Museum of London during our trip.
Here, the boys switched roles, because Ollie suddenly became fascinated by history (my wife is a history teacher), whereas Isaac – well, Isaac decided to take a nap on a bench:
Never been prouder.
6. London parents give their kids ridiculous names
In most parts of the country, encountering a two year old (with dreadlocks) named Alan, would comfortably win ‘most inappropriate name 2018’, but not in our fine capital city.
Whilst listening to a story at the aforementioned Museum of London, the storyteller was trying to get children to go up on stage to share their own ideas. Ollie, naturally, was far too shy to even contemplate doing this, but the precocious little public school shit directly in front of me, was eager for everyone in the audience to hear his Tory Boy ideas. Up he marched, onto the stage, before announcing to everyone that his name was…. wait for it…..
That’s right, this guy:
I don’t even mind that his mother may have heard me laughing, because the fact this kid was named after a late-70s television detective is almost certainly her fault. It was either her idea, or she didn’t veto it.
The only thing that could have possibly angered me more, was if the younger brother (who was stood right in front of me) wasn’t called Hutch. Because, if you’re going to give your eldest child a ridiculous name, from one half of a famous TV duo, you damn well better make sure you see the joke through, when your stupid hippy womb pushes forth another Eton prospect a few years later.
Some people make me so mad.
7. I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime
After a few pints in the pub on the Sunday afternoon, I set myself a challenge to see how quickly I could fall asleep on the tube.
Answer: Three stops.
8. Someone has discovered a way to make soft-play even more unbearable
There is not a parent in this land who actually enjoys taking their child(ren) to a soft play centre. Sure, it means the little sods leave you alone for a bit, while they run around like fucking lunatics (hopefully burning off some energy in the process), but soft-play venues are – without exception – like going to Ikea with a migraine, while someone screams at you and hits you over the head.
But the owner of one particular soft play place in Balham hasn’t stopped there. They have decided to make an already unbearable experience even worse, by turning the heating up as high as it will go (ok, it was February, but everyone knows playing children generate the same sort of heat as a nuclear reactor), then filling the venue with an odour of equal parts vomit and disinfectant… whilst playing Abba at full volume. Oh, and they charged £8.50 for my sausage sandwich (which was admittedly delicious, but for that kind of money I would have expected the sausages to be made from unicorn meat).
9. The relationship between a child’s name, and their parent’s attitude to discipline
I have discovered, through my time spent in the same soft play area, with my nostrils and ears bleeding simultaneously, that there is an inverse relationship between the normality of a child’s name, and how much their parent cares about discipline: the more obscure the name, the more disinterested the parent is.
“Elderflower, darling, stop stamping on that other child’s face, that’s a no-no…”
10. Ollie’s ‘illness’ was not all it seemed
On the Monday of half-term, the day before we were due to travel home, Ollie woke up feeling unwell, and was promptly sick in the toilet. He couldn’t eat, had a terrible headache (which led to him vomiting), and any bright lights were hurting his eyes.
I should explain at this point, that my wife suffers with migraines, and she became very concerned that, as with his love of history and museums, this was to be another unfortunate trait he would inherit from her.
However, once he had some more sleep, a Subway sandwich, and a giant shit, he felt much better.
All of which leads me to conclude that, far from having a migraine, he was in fact chronically hungover.