In her new short story, `A Day In A Swinging Londoner's Life', Kathy Lette finds the world's hippest city swinging slower than a barn door
For most masochists, a quick thrashing with a bit of wet lettuce in Soho will suffice. But not being a member of the Tory Party, my greatest feat of masochism is reading one of those "A Day in the Life of a Swinging Londoner" columns.

Invariably, some not just name-, but place-dropping member of London's Celebritocracy is boasting about her high-powered, action-packed day, beginning with breakfast in bed - I'm not talking the cold cuppa and soggy Weetabix I always get. (Hey, between that and the muesli, it's the lesser of two weevils). Oh no. For her it's oven-warmed pain chocolat and a single red rose, presented by an adoring spouse as the brace of children (the heir and the spare) frolic joyfully around the family hearth in Hampstead.

Naturally this is followed by a breathtaking itinerary of jogging, static cycling, yoga, meditation and bread-baking before dropping the children off at "Baby Mensa", pausing on route to pick up various prizes for literature, followed by lunch at the Ivy with Melvyn Bragg, Tina Brown and a couple of Captains of Industry.

A hurdy-gurdy of high profile It Girl parties at Nobos and champagne- saturated book launches a la Groucho have to be endured, before co- cooking a gourmet feast over which hubby and wife quote a fair whack of love poetry to each other, inspiring them to execute chapters six to nine of the Kama Sutra before falling into a deep sleep.


Sleep deprivation is a torture in some countries of the world. This is because it works. I'd confess to anything... although with a six- and a four-year-old, there's nothing to confess to. The highlight of my day is retrieving the guinea pig from the depths of the blender. That's why I became a mother. I just couldn't resist the glamour of it all. Have been woken at dawn by my miniature insomniacs for as long as I can remember.

7am, abandon "A Day in the Life of a Very Big Fibber" to make breakfast. I don't so much eat breakfast, as wear it. My progeny are going through a stage where they think food is a decorative option. It's like dining with Henry VIII. Within 10 minutes, they've trashed the kitchen with rock- star style.

Food facials cement-rendering to our features, we then set about Doing Fabulously Creative Things With Finger Paint. By mid-morning I am so bored with making science labs for Doctor X and his Street Sharks out of old shoe boxes, I'm tempted to grow a yeast infection for a change of pace.

According to American Vanity Fair, London is swinging again. For a fleeting moment I consider venturing out to sample the world's hippest metropolis, but taking into account IRA bomb scares and gale warnings (the sky has been a grey duvet for as long as I can remember. "Where were you on the night of December 1st till March 29?") and the fact that all my friends have tested positive to allergies to Ninja Turtles and nappies - this is a society, don't forget, which keeps its dogs at home and sends its children off to high class kennels called Eton and Harrow - and suddenly I'm feeling all swung out.

"Where do roads end?" and "How do eyebrows know to stop growing in the middle?" demand the rug rats, stereophonically. "Where does wind blow from?" "If God made us, who made God?" My Nietzsche impression is interrupted by a clipboard-clutching dishwashing liquid researcher who wants to know what kind of mother I am. I stare at her blankly. "A working mother?" she prompts, patronisingly. Now there's a tautology.

"No," I snap, slamming the door. "As in Theresa."

In the short time it takes me not to win a free sample of dishwashing liquid, my daughter has decided to go for gold in the Projectile Vomit Olympics. Just to add the icing to another fun-packed London day, the washing machine breaks down. Dripping in drool and stool, I search for my little boy who has gone suspiciously quiet This is because he's now put the guinea pig down the toilet and flooded the bathroom.

Deprived of his fun, my offspring gives me one of those "hey, I gave you the best year of my life" looks. The sort of look which suggests a future career in publishing, starting with his sequel to Mommie Dearest. He spends the afternoon convincing his convalescing sister that her Rupert Bear slippers are going to savage her. I comfort myself that things could be worse, they've yet to take up the descant recorder.

Five paint bomb fights, one hepatitis injection (well, wouldn't you? After giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a guinea pig?), seventy-six orphanage threats, a dressing-down from my card-carrying Islington feminist friend (I was caught screening a Thomas the Tank Engine video. There's one female engine called Daisy, who's frightened of cows and has eyelashes which, when she blinks, look like a couple of tarantulas mating) and ninety- five choruses of "Old MacDonald's Farm" later (what kind of noise does an armadillo make?) - I'm just adopting the foetal position and trying to remember what my name is... when the phone rings. It's Petronella or Henryella or something-or-other-ella, asking me if I'd like to be interviewed for "A Day in the Life of a Swinging Londoner".

"Well ..." I hear myself purr, "it invariably begins with breakfast-in- bed - complete with oven-warmed pain chocolat and a single red rose - presented by an adoring spouse, as a brace of children frolic joyfully around the family hearth..."

`A Day in a Swinging Londoner's Life' is from `New Writing 7: An Anthology', edited by Carmen Callil and Craig Raine, published by Vintage in association with the British Council (pounds 7.99)