On Sunday I went to my sister-in-law’s baby shower.
My mother gave me directions for how to get there. She believes all her children to be hopeless navigators (it’s true, most of us are) and whenever we’re driving anywhere different she likes to meticulously plan out our routes for us, avoiding right hand turns. (She believes right hand turns to be extremely dangerous.)
If you tell Mum that you’ve got a satellite navigator, or that you plan to google the directions, or refer to your own street directory, or remind her that you’re a grown-up now, she just giggles, and gives you the directions anyway.
So Mum left a message on my phone with the directions. She finished with, “And then you’re in the street, and you’ll see the house straight away, because there will be balloons out the front.”
So I got there without any problem (apart from that right hand turn phobia, her directions are excellent). Except I was running late because the morning had somehow slipped right through my fingers. I saw the house with the balloons. I parked and yanked the baby capsule out of the car, slung the nappy bag over my shoulder, put the present under my arm and hobbled into the house.
Everyone was already eating lunch. I was starved.
“Oh, how cute!” said a teenage girl, looking down at Anna.
“Thank you,” I mumbled, because I had the stem of my sunglasses gripped between my teeth. I asked her where my sister-in-law was, and where should I put the present? I was anxious not to miss out on the food.
The girl got a careful blank expression on her face because I wasn’t making any sense. I put down the baby capsule, took my glasses out of my mouth and spoke properly. She still looked at me blankly.
We eventually worked out that I was at the wrong house and the wrong party. I’d been just seconds away from helping myself to a sausage roll.
A nice lady led me out, laughing merrily but I noticed she locked the front door firmly behind me.
I walked around the corner and saw another house with balloons and my mother coming down the driveway to take the capsule off me. She wasn’t at all surprised when she heard I’d walked into the wrong house. She’d really prefer to still drive me everywhere.
My sister-in-law’s sister gave me a necklace to wear. “If someone hears you say the word ‘baby’ you’ve got to give them your necklace,” she explained. “The person with the most necklaces wins a prize.”
“OK, hand it over,” I said.
“Your necklace – you just said the word baby.”
She started taking it off, looking sad, “But I had to explain the rules to you!”
“No, no, I was only joking,” I said. “Look! I’ve got a baby! OK, now we’re even.”
I was trying to be jaunty.
Once, when I was ten, I tried to be jaunty at the corner shop on the way home from school. There was a teenage girl who worked there who I greatly admired. After I ordered my bag of mixed lollies, I thought I would toss my coin to her, in a sort of flippant, cool move. Except the girl misunderstood my intentions and snarled “How rude!” Well. I was crushed. Devastated. In floods of tears. Later that day my mother drove me back to the corner shop so we could both explain that I hadn’t meant to be rude – the opposite in fact! “She was just trying to be funny,” my mother said to the man who owned the shop. I can still see his baffled face. The girl I’d offended had gone home. He had no idea what we were talking about.
Never take a sausage roll until you’ve confirmed you’re at the right party.
Be careful when you’re being jaunty.
These are the lessons I will try to pass on to my children.