I have been mugged by Hugh Grant. Typical.
Today was going to be A Nice Day.
I was getting mildy bored of Terrible Days where Marmite flung itelf out of cupboards to dash itself to a sticky oblivion on the kitchen floor, the toddler would lie rigid, stiff and angry on the floor of Home Bargains, seemingly covered in Teflon when I tried to lift him out of the pathway of shame and curiously flavoured crisps, my cardigan would not only be inside out but also upside down and suddenly too small.
Today was going to be a Nice Day. The bank account details were certainly Not Nice but I bravely decided to carry on having a Nice Day with the help of a bag containing a fivers worth of ten p’s saved for an emergency. I felt almost rich with a weighty old-fashioned feel to carrying around a bag of silver. That was me Being Positive.
I decide to take the toddler on the bus to Lancaster University. I like going there because it is £2.40 for a longish bus ride, Lancaster University seems very Other, huddled away on its hill with its weirdly seperate but the same shops, like a familiar yet unfamiliar dream. It also has the best charity shop ever, consisting of awesome International Student garb, often involving anime and priced at under four pounds, cheap food and drink and a park where no other children are to be found so I do not have to apologise for the toddler’s Death Stare when someone tries to engage him in conversation or give him an imaginary ice-cream.
I am expecting much for my five pounds worth of ten p’s.
We board the bus and sit down to hear a well spoken voice arguing desperately with the bus driver. ‘Please, please, I am being met at the other end by someone with my bus fare. Today is the first day of my new life! Please, I beg you!’ A student is clearly desperate to begin his new adventures in learning and has not yet been given his loan. He is being met by someone with money. I am having a Nice Day and thus am feeling full of happiness and benevolence.
I am also aware of how precarious our finances are but put my trust in humanity.
I give him two pounds in ten p’s. He smiles and thanks me in a Hugh Grant accent. Then realises he is still short. The only other passenger gives him the rest. He beams at her.
I spend the rest of the journey worrying about why he has not phoned his friend up. Before the main stop at Lancaster Uni, a dark Hades like underpass, he leaps off, smiles and me and vanishes- I then notice he has a smartly folded copy of The Times under his arm.
The Times! The fucking Times!
He has given his cash to Murdoch in the expectation that someone will give him his busfare.
I feel conned and cross that I have given two quid to a lieing Tory upstart blagger who can spend a quid on the Times when I have thirty quid to last the weekend. I suspect he will almost definitely become an MP.
Lancaster University is shadowed by the loss of my two pounds and my money bag loses its jangly promise. I purchase some 50p sunglasses from the excellent charity shop and try to console myself with the idea of them being worth at least £2.50 but they were clearly a promotional freebie from a downmarket magazine retailing at less than two pounds.
I put my card in the bank machine with that sick hollow feeling of not being allowed any more money but ten pounds comes out so the toddler and I go and buy cheesy curly freis for £1.65. It could have been an enchilada dammit. Tory Boy has ruined the day.
I am embarressed by the thought of people looking at me and judging what my child is eating so I keep loudly saying, ‘what a naughty treat! Aren’t we naughty! We’ll have nice healthy Hungarian Goulash tonight! You love Hungarian Goulash don’t you?’
The toddler looks at me as he has never heard of Hungarian Goulash before. That might be because we have never once had it.
Sometimes Performance Parenting is not parents showing off. It is to try and cover up the fact they are actually a Bad Parent by lying in public.
With another two pounds, my child might have eaten a toasted sandwich with curly cheesy fries.
I see a tramp on the way home and can not give him any money because I have given what I could ill afford to an entitled posh boy with a copy of today’s Times. I feel like telling him to stop shivering and looking sorrowful because nowadays the way to take money is to be wealthy, jaunty and well-spoken.
Or maybe I have just met the Dickensian ghost of David Cameron on the X1 on the way to Lancaster University on a breezy smoky September day.