School trip

Daughter two is on a school trip to France in a rather drastic attempt to beat the election. She’s been gone since Tuesday and I’m counting the hours till she’s back. There is an itinerary on my desk so we look at it every night to imagine what she’s up to. When she left she told me that she would disown me if I cried. I let her get on the bus and faked a dramatic weeping session, which I thought she would appreciate given her theatrical tendencies. And she did. I then mouthed “keep away from the cliffs” at her. The first stop on the trip was a packed lunch on a cliff top in France. Why did anyone think that was a good idea with around 100 12 year olds? Daughter two is her mother’s daughter and is only too able to imagine untold disasters at every turn so I knew it would only need a subtle few tips about clifftop safety.

But on Tuesday it was rather windy so I decided to remind her. I spent the whole day worrying about getting a call from something called the telephone tree which would alert me about a clifftop incident. By 4pm the school website had informed us that everyone had arrived safely.

Meanwhile, daughter one has begun GCSE exams a year early. This week was Chinese. She’s been fairly tense. Only a year to go till they are nearly all over. Then daughter two has to go through O Levels, followed swiftly by daughter three and only son will bring up the rear. By the time we’re done with school exams I’ll be semi-retired.

I could have done with early retirement yesterday. Doing different jobs and trying to fit everything in can be slightly exhausting. I had a meeting in Cambridge at 12.30, but had to be there early to do an interview with a banker. However, I also had to do a conference call at 11 so I figured the best solution was to drive to Cambridge, do the conference call en route in the car, then drive to a car park and do the other call before running over to the meeting. Everything went fairly well. I hadn’t bargained for roadworks on the way to the petrol station so was running a bit late, but I still got to the housing estate on the edge of Cambridge just in time for 11am. I even had a few minutes to check emails except 3G didn’t work. Just as 11am struck a massive tractor thing loomed in the wing mirror, but suddenly veered off to the left.

I did the conference call and had 15 minutes to get to a car park in the city centre. I got there just in time and called the banker. No reply. I left a message and checked my emails. I decided to leave the car and start walking towards the college I had the meeting in. I checked my phone. I had a voicemail. Why had the phone not rung? Not for the first time I suspected someone in the family had put it on airplane mode. There followed lots of back and fros with the banker and a rushed attempt to find the college I was looking for. I had never been there before, but in my mind I felt I knew where it was. I was wrong. The college I thought it was was not Jesus College. I went into another college. “I’m trying to find Jesus,” I said, slightly flustered. The porter understood that this was not a spiritual journey and redirected me to the right college. I arrived just in time for a very interesting lunch meeting with a classics professor about migration in Rome and Greece and its impact on languages.

I then had another brief meeting and rang the banker again. I headed for the car park, except in all the rush I’d forgotten where I’d put the car. I found it just before the ticket ran out and daughter one texted to ask when I would be home to vote.

I then made the mistake of trying to turn into a road which was blocked and got stuck in the middle of a junction. My phone went. It was a text from the banker. She was free to talk right now. A bus loomed in front of me and about 20 cyclists approached from the side.

I had daughter one’s coat on and was waiting for the inevitable text once she noticed. Instead she texted in reply to my question about how the Chinese exam went. “Terrible, of course”. When I walked through the door she just pointed at the coat in disgust while only son thrust a note stating that he had been invited to something called “animalistic” which sounds slighty scary. At least he didn’t arrive home with the three school rabbits which he was threatening to do. He proudly showed me his homework book. He had two house points for writing a joke. It went: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Sun. Sun who? Sun in the sky. Hahaha. It was a fitting end to the day.



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