“They fuck you up, your mum and dad.”

I’m not sure where that sentence comes from, nor why it leapt into my head as I finished reading the article I’m about to mention, but perhaps it’s a subconcious thing.

Depression. Few people admit to having experienced it. Even fewer write about it. Which is why it’s so remarkable to read a column in the Guardian today that deals with that very subject:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/02/depression-mental-health-breakdown

I’m not going to dwell on it here. I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about the subject before, if not publicly on the blog, then certainly in small doses under a “Friends Only” cover, but depression is something that, once experienced, taints you forever, especially as there seems to be so little out there in admittance that it happens to so many.

The weekend has passed by in a blur. I picked the kids up on Friday night, decided that, after a few hours of in-fighting between the eldest three, it was in everyones interest to get out of the house and expend some energy. A bus ride later (at the cost of almost a tenner for me and the four kids on a return ticket) we arrived in town. The kids had requested that we go to Kool Kidz, a favourite soft-play haunt of theres, and after trudging through town we faced the disappointment of finding it closed for the afternoon. We decided to go to a different play area, another ten minute walk from where we were and ended up taking the back route, through the “bunny runs” that make up the Northern part of the town. We emerged an hour or so later, having Geocached on the way and generally had a nose around. I paid to get in and bought everyone a drink (another £20) and sat down to read a book as the kids all raced off in different directions.

Ten minutes later, I glance up from my book to see my four year old son limping towards me, being supported by the eldest two. Tears were streaming down his face.

“What happened?” I asked, looking towards the eldest two for an explanation.

“We don’t know,” replied my eldest, “we just saw him crying and brought him over here. I think he’s hurt his foot.”

My son was still sobbing as I sat him on the seat next to me.

“What happened mate?”

“I limping,” he responded through sobs, “I limping.”

“I can see that, but what happened?”

“My foot…” he paused and then burst into tears again.

I tried moving his foot around and there was no resistance from him as I did it. I pushed and pulled his foot lightly, all the time searching his face for signs of pain, but he seemed fine.

“Does that hurt?”

“My foot… I limping…”

We ended up putting a wet compress on his foot and he stopped crying shortly after. Once or twice he tried to walk, but gave up after a couple of steps, preferring instead to sit next to me and chat away while his sisters played. His foot was unswollen, unbruised and unmarked. The only way I could get any kind of reaction from him was by squeezing his foot on either side, which caused him to screw his face up in the “pre-cry” position that all under 5s seem to have.

Eventually the time came to go home, more due to the fact that the eldest three, who are a week into their six weeks holidays, weren’t able to get along at all and were busy arguing. As my youngest couldn’t walk, I ended up carrying him on my shoulders and we made the ten minute walk to the bus stop outside the train station, eventually getting on a bus and getting home. He didn’t move from the sofa for the rest of the night, ignoring his train set, which is his pride and joy, and instead watched tv. He seemed happy enough as long as he wasn’t putting any pressure on his foot, and I think he was happy getting the attention from everyone over his foot, including the large bandage I wrapped around it, and the various ice packs that were applied to it.

He fell asleep without any problem and when he woke in the morning I hoped he would be a lot better, but no sooner had he stood up, his face crinkled again and he pulled his left foot up in pain.

I ended up texting Mel and she suggested a trip to A&E, which would have meant a ten minute walk to a bus stop, a 30 minute bus ride to the hospital, all with the three girls in tow, and thankfully Mel opted to take him there in Marks car.

Ninety minutes later she texted me to say that they had x-rayed his foot and that they could see no broken bones, just that there was bruising there, which I guess is the only thing they can see if they can’t see anything obviously wrong. He now has his foot bandaged up properly, and even this morning was still not putting much pressure on it. Hopefully a few days of rest will make him feel better.

After dropping the kids off at 1pm I walked to town, jumping on a train at 2pm and arriving at Trafalgar Square at just gone 3pm. I’d arranged to meet Erica at 3pm at the square “by the lions”, confidently believing that - being a Sunday - it’d be empty. What greeted me as I walked down past the National Gallery was a huge mass of people, several Steel Drum bands and more multicultural sights and smells than I have seen in one place since Chelmsford opened a fish restaurant and an Italian restaurant just down the road from the main entrance to the local gym.

I circled Nelsons Column once, then twice, looking for Erica. The problem with meeting people that you know only from online is that they generally neither look nor act like they claim online. What’s even worse is when you’ve only seen one photo of the person you are meeting and are pinning most of your hopes of recognition on the fact that your meeting place will generally be devoid of others. So having several hundred people, all moving as slowly as a naked fat man sludging through treacle to get to a salad, doesn’t help at all.

Thankfully I’d had the foresight to drop her a message saying I’d be a little late, and she, in turn, had thought to check her messages and reply giving a description of what she was wearing. In an ideal world, this blog entry would end: “and the text read ‘an overcoat, a smile and nothing else…’ “, but alas this is not an ideal world. Fortunately the blue jeans, black top and red bag made her easy to find sitting on the edge of the fountain, amid all of the groups of tourists with similarly coloured backpacks and shared inability to take a photo with backing into people.

We immediately agreed to grab a coffee, and I did my best not to bore her rigid with the details of my journey, opting only to mention that the underground train I’d jumped on had it’s heating turned up full, which partly explained why I was sweating like a paedophile in a playground, choosing to leave out the boring bit about the train from Chelmsford having it’s air con on full blast, thus making the underground even worse.

We sat and chatted on the steps overlooking Trafalgar Square and it struck me how nice it was to be able to chat rubbish with someone you find attractive without really wondering where it will end up. Having already been labelled a “safe option”, which was a sideways compliment and a way of saying that I was a nice guy, fun to flirt with but that it’d never go any further due to her commitment to her husband. Bold, up front and honest. Fantastic qualities for someone to have, even more so when they are complimented by a penchant for both alcohol and coffee, as well as a quick wit, sharp tongue and good looks.

After a couple of hours which seemed to fly by in no time, we parted ways, Erica off to go on the London Eye with friends and then making her way back towards the West End to take photos of an outside loo (no lie!), and I ended up meeting with Tasha and walking from Leicester Square to Tower Bridge, a 3 mile walk along the Embankment.

The day ended with Tasha driving me home, and then insisting that I stick to my earlier agreement, made under the influence of a few JD and cokes, that we go clubbing to Chicagos in town, which we did and it was rammed thanks to Sunday night being gay night.

Six hours sleep later and the working week begins. A good weekend with very little achieved, but a smile on my face nonetheless. CaffeinatedDan footer

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