Work life overload

It’s been quite a week for work and life and, naturally, I’ve come down with a terrible cold and am now squeaking instead of speaking. It seems that every year at this time, circa two weeks into autumn term, I get a terrible cold and feel like death warmed up right at the busiest time. I then slightly recover for October and November before going into freefall in the December spiral of work life overdrive and ending up with the norovirus, the flu or both for the period just before and directly after Christmas.

This week has been an exercise in precision logistics. I have had people texting me from various locations as I marshall them towards home via mobile phone. Daughters and and two came home on the train on Wednesday because daughter three was on her way back from a school trip, which we had followed on Twitter. On Thursday daughters one and two finished school at midday. Daughter one headed to Westfield and daughter two to Chelmsford. I was in a meeting all day. Both texted that they had got to their desired locations. Daughter one whatsapped: “I’ve run low on credit. Can you top up my phone or I won’t be able to tell you where I am?” I was in a wi-fi free zone. I suggested she borrow her friend’s phone.

She texted to say that she was not staying in Westfield where I was supposed to meet her to take her to an open evening. The friend who was coming with her was sick so she was going to my mum’s. My mum texted and left a message saying she was on the case. Daughter two texted to say she was back at school where she was volunteered to be a guide for open evening.

I got home and whispered to daughters one and three that they needed to get read to go to the open evening, my voice having completely disappeared. Daughter one was lying on the sofa saying she felt ill and I had infected her. Only son was hopping around excitedly.

He had taken the stone keep we made at the weekend into school in the morning for show and tell. I admit that I got slightly stressed about it since it was not due in till half term [we found out after making it], it was raining in the morning and half the turrets had fallen off. I think I may have sworn in front of the head teacher on the school gate when, having replaced the turrets, they fell off again just as daughter three announced that she had left her trainers at home and could I fetch them. I was by then running 20 minutes late for my meeting.

Anyway, the stone keep went down well and only son had a good day. This was good news as the day before he had come home a bit down because he was moved from green to orange, which is apparently very bad indeed. I asked what happened. His friend had said he was wearing Spiderman pants and only son announced he had dinosaur pants on. His friend said he wanted to see so only son showed him his dinosaur pants and his friend showed him his Spiderman ones. “The teacher said we were being rude so we had to sit on the carpet for five minutes before we went to lunch,” said only son disconsolately.

I took daughters three and one back to school and we went round the sixth form and the rest of the school, talking to lots of teachers about philosophy and stuff. Daughter three is very excited about secondary school. We met daughter two and her friend in the sixth form block after going to a debate on euthanasia. Both daughter one and me were croaking and sniffing in unison. By the time we got home it was fairly late and my voice had totally disappeared and I was reduced to sign language, but it’s okay now because it’s Friday and the weekend is within sight. It feels like the cavalry has arrived.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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