On 24th August, as part of a busy day, the Duchess of Cambridge will visit Hayward Tyler – a nuclear pump and motor specialist engineering firm. I’m not feeling too pumped currently, but I’m sure, in part two, we will find what drives the Duchess’ determination to motor through even the dullest of duties.
“I’m just tired,” I wheeze into the phone to my friend, who calls as I let go of leads and double pram, freeing dogs, children and plastic toy pump into the low tangles of the meadow (really a land mine zone of animal shit and thorns).
We left the house because my noble act of topping up the freezing paddling pool with boiled water injections ended in a dead kettle when I submerged it in a ‘this will be quicker than using the tap’ moment of idiocy. After switching the kettle on and off several times, swearing at the fuse box and swaddling shivering children in tea towels, nuclear canine energy threatened to twist us all into a white rapid vortex so we legged it out for another walk.
Like a stunned catfish, I watch my four charges gambol gaily through the grasses. NC is a released balloon, commando crawling at a barbed wire fence. NG’s wearing shorts which only stay up when she’s wearing pants, which she isn’t. NL starts barking at me to throw his ball. My mother’s Lab spots a rabbit and becomes Usain Bolt. “Anyway, what are you doing this week?”
My friend, whom I love, has no children or dogs and a wardrobe filled with Jigsaw. “Not much. Getting my nail fix. Do you want to come? We could go window shopping.”
I glance at my claws, which look as if they’ve been used to escape prison. Ragged, weak, flaky… I tell my brain to fuck off with its suggestion they reflect my own mental state. I do need a dress for the Mad Blog Awards next month. (Whether I can afford one is a moot point). “Can we do it tomorrow?”
Tomorrow, NC has a ‘trial period’ at nursery and NG is also occupied. I can drop them, power-walk the dogs with a tennis ball whazzer and be sipping coffee in a child unfriendly cafe by 11 if I play my cards right. The idea has the dubious shimmer of the lipstick Peter Jones wore on Dragons’ Den.
NG comes running up to me and smudges the polish. “Mummy, where is my rocket?”
The air pump toy we bought for her third birthday is cool in an old skool way but drives the dogs wild. I extract it with uncertainty from the buggy depths. She’s old enough to set it up now and with a ‘pffft’ the hollow plastic dildo form soars into the air.
“What are you doing?” asks my friend, who is still hanging on (love her).
“Having fun with gravity,” I say. “Are we on for tomorrow?”
She confirms, we hang up and I trudge round the field in a relatively benign state, wondering idly what the hell the Duchess of Cambridge will find to say on her tour of Hayward Tyler Engineering next week. Apparently they make submersible motors. The blog is doing well and I ponder whether Hayward Tyler would consider sending me a gland-less wet wound stator for review. I have no effing clue what one is but apparently they invented it. I’m sure Kate will be prepped. She probably uses it in a kettle… my thoughts are interrupted by a loud wail. Looking over, one of the dogs has brought down the rocket pump. The Labs toss the flaccid pink carcass between them with carefree abandon only felt by those who are fed, watered and cleaned up after by others.
NG runs up and hugs my leg. I shove a mini box of raisins at her. She sniffs, then trots off again. The phone rings. NW is at work but excited about his forthcoming day skipper course (we haven’t got a boat). It is lunch time and he’s sitting sipping coffee in a child unfriendly cafe.
“Hi,” he says. “How’re things?”
“Fine.” I don’t tell him about the kettle. Or the rocket.
“Oh. Good,” he says cheerfully.
We discuss the Tesco shop. The line isn’t great (noisy Londoners chatting about interesting things and eating cake) and, as I prepare to ring off, the back wheel of the buggy trips on a molehill and lurches sideways. The tyre’s flat. I tell NW.
“You need to do what to the pram?”
“Pump it. Pump it up.”
I watch NG spin on her size 7 canvas pump, stumble because her shorts are around her knees, and topple onto a thistle. NL is rolling in something.
“You want to pimp up the buggy? Why? Erm… can you do it when you get your nails and dress?”
I take a deep breath. “Are you eating something delicious?” I say, tucking NC under my arm and forcefully removing a head of clover.
“Um, yes. Carrot cake.”
“No, carrot cake.”
“I know you said carrot cake. Like I said ‘pump’, not ‘pimp’.”
“What’s your point?”
I don’t have one. The buggy needs air, the dogs need controlling and a kettle needs to be bought but somehow, even with the thought of tomorrow’s shop, I just feel deflated.
“Cheer up,” he says. “What are the children doing?”
NG is limping towards me. There is a bit of blood.
“There’s a wet wound situation going on,” I say.
“I was reading about gland-less motors in Boating Today,” he says enthusiastically. “And aren’t the Cambridges going to look round some company on Wednesday? Wet wound gland-less pumps.”
My brain swells like NC’s overnight nappy at the number of retorts this comment begs but I don’t want things to blow up so I whistle for the dogs, press NW for details and go home (not) to put the kettle on.
NOTE: This story is part one of a two-part serial. Teaser: find out how Kate copes in the second part, set in Anmer Hall. Pump it up!