It is a beautiful day. We are on the train, heading to Portsmouth, to watch the America’s Cup in the hope that the LandRover BAR team will (hashtag) ‘bring the cup home’. I have just been interviewed by BBC Radio for the blog, both children are looking vaguely normal and NW and I haven’t argued yet. Life is good.
“Where’s my sippy cup?” NG pipes from the back of the buggy, where she insists on cramming herself, despite the headbar crunching her neck like a Japanese torture tool.
“In the bag,” I say distractedly, hoping it is. It probably is. NG’s favourite cup is actually a water bottle from America, brought home by husband, who is from Seattle. It has a straw and NG calls it a sippy cup because, despite wanting to be a ‘big girl’ 99% of the time, she likes pretending to be a baby when it comes to drinking. And so it appears at every mealtime, lending her the look of a small Bear Grylls, and we take it everywhere, even though the painted mountains and pine trees suggest it was designed for use hiking round Alpine lakes rather than Aldi.
“Don’t lose it, will you?” she trills worriedly.
“No,” I say seriously, because it is 29 degrees and whilst I’m banking on quenching my own thirst with something fruity and alcoholic, the children had probably better have water.
The train ride goes well, the only blip being NC emptying a crisp packet on the head of the woman in front, and we walk to Southsea like we really mean it.
“Kate Middleton’s coming tomorrow,” I say, off-handedly to NW, who has stopped suddenly and is searching the rucksack. “She’s presenting the trophy.”
“Oh, for god’s sake,” he mutters.
“I’m just saying.”
“No, no… for god’s sake, I haven’t got any money.”
“What do you mean?”
He looks at me hard. “I’ve forgotten my wallet. Have you got any money?”
I have, as it happens, got £40 in cash but I was hoping not to spend it on crap like flavoured rice cakes, an ’emergency’ bottle of Calpol and extra wipes, but Pimm’s. Also, I owe one of my best mates a tenner from a bet last summer which I still haven’t repaid. We are meeting friends in the America’s Cup Race Village because NW got some perky tickets through his job and, what with no-one driving, I was hoping to enjoy a few drinks in the sun (responsibly, of course).
We battle through the crowds and find our gang, then promptly split up again because one needs a wee, one needs fish and chips and one doesn’t want to go to sleep. I trundle NC around in the buggy in a circle, his wails drowned out by the huge television speakers and the excitement of the crowd as ‘our boys’ win a race.
“I’m going to the bar,” I say when NW returns with food.
He doesn’t argue and I spend a happy twenty minutes on my phone in a queue, not playing Pokemon Go. When I get to the front, the jolly looking barman is about to take my order when I drop my phone. As I bend down to pick it up, the familiar scent of NC’s faeces makes me gag.
“Sorry, my son needs changing. Could you hang on a minute?”
I sense the displeasure of those behind me as I wheel the buggy round the back of the food van. Trying not to heave at the stench of frying oil and shit, I wipe, fold and tie the nappy into a sack, ready to swing the trophy into one of the huge bins.
“It’s £38 for a jug of Pimm’s,” says the man when I return. “That includes £10 deposit,” he adds brightly.
In my shock, I swing the nappy sack too fast over the bin. It lands with a damp thud in the middle of the crowd, then quietly explodes. People scatter like seagulls as the shit and smell seep out. I have no more wipes. Temporarily frozen with embarrassment, I register the mess and then grab the jug, thrust all my cash at the man and push the buggy as fast as I can back to our group without spilling alcoholic fizz over NC as I go.
“Here,” I gasp, proudly showing the adults the jug.
My friend looks at me keenly. “Did you get cups? Oh, and WHERE is my tenner?!”
“Bugger. I left them at the bar,” I say, realising too that I can’t repay the bet as all my cash is gone. I gaze back – people are giving the nappy sack a wide berth and I don’t have to hear the remarks to know they will be pretty stinky.
“Don’t worry,” NW says kindly, taking the jug. “There’s one here,” he picks up a dropped clean plastic cup from the ground, “and we can use this.” He holds up NG’s precious bottle.
NC is contentedly slurping his bottle of milk and I know NG has had lots of water, so I concede.
We have a lovely afternoon of racing, drinking (responsibly) and lounging about but the nappy guilt nags at me like a toddler with an iPad restriction. By this point, I have had three glasses of Pimm’s and so I grab the nearest thing to me – the empty jug – run back to the forecourt and scoop the small bomb into it. I feel the eyes of onlookers watch me approvingly – as far as they’re concerned, I’m just a good Samaritan – as I dump the nappy once and for all in the bin. Then, as I look down and the now smeared with shit jug, realisation dawns: I’ll have to bloody well clean it before I can return it and get my deposit back.
I head to the Portaloos. There’s a queue, of course, and while I’m checking my phone, a boy on a skateboard wobbles towards me. You know what happens next. The jug smashes. There is shitty glass on the floor. It is now twice as bad as it was and I have definitely lost my deposit.
I return to the bar forlornly. “I’ve broken the jug,” I say, pathetically. “But I still need money.”
The man looks at me, amused. “But you’ve got no jug.”
“I know,” I say.
“I could take something else.”
I look confused. “Like what?”
I smile at him but not with my eyes. “No.”
He eyes NG’s water bottle with interest. “That’s pretty nice.”
“It’s my daughter’s sippy cup! I mean, water bottle. I mean… “
He sighs. “Well, I’m off in a minute and it’s so hot, I’m going to need some water to get me home. Give me that and I’ll give you a tenner.”
I am torn. £10 will mean I can pay my friend back but I’ll lose NG’s beloved drinking vessel. There is, in the end, no question, of course. I shrug and turn away.
“Mummy, my cup, my cup!” shouts NG as I return.
“Yes, I’ve got your cup,” I say, handing her the bottle. She looks at it with disdain. “No, not THAT cup. I’ve got a new one!” She holds up the plastic pint glass NW found on the grass earlier. “It’s so big. Daddy says it’s like they have at baseball in America! Look, I can drink like a big girl! Let’s bring it home!
It’s time for the Mumsnet Blog Award nominations! And, if you like Right Royal Mother, I would love a nomination for Best Writer or Comedic Writer. Thank you thank you. Polly x