Help me, please: I'm a stranger in Mummyland


I find my life is very mixed up. One minute I'm being whisked around doing exciting showbizzy things and being generally treated in a manner which I don't deserve but quickly become accustomed to; the next minute I'm dumped back home where I come about equal seventh with the rabbit on the importance register – actually, I think the rabbit edges it, but big ears can't speak so who cares?

Yesterday, I had a day off and was looking forward to settling down to a new video game in which I play a sniper, shooting my way through about 1,000 Germans an hour. If my kids wander in, I have to stop as the German-killing is quite graphic. In the kids' minds, I play a game where I climb tall buildings with a rifle on my back and then admire the scenery. They soon get bored and wander off.

Anyway, I was hoping to play this, but my plan was kyboshed by the boss. I was on a three-line whip to go and watch my eight-year-old son have a swimming lesson in the local leisure-centre pool. This always fills me with dread, because I am usually the only dad in an observation deck full of mothers who spend the half hour staring at me suspiciously as though I'm some form of predatory spectator. To counter this, I often over-compensate by shouting encouragement at my boy. Sadly, it always ends up being the wrong child, as small boys look very similar when they are almost entirely submerged in chlorinated water. I started to think about forcing Jackson to wear some kind of fluorescent swimming cap so that I could spot him, but the poor boy suffers enough already and I quickly abandoned this idea.

I also had other problems. A little girl, about six, had wandered over to stand right by my chair and stood there crying. I did the decent thing and tried to ignore her, hoping that her mother would soon come and deal with the situation. But no one arrived. Surrounding mothers now started to stare at me as though I was the cause of the little girl's unhappiness.

Eventually, I could no longer ignore the situation, and I asked her what was wrong. She bawled even louder, and several mothers, seeing me say something to the little tear-machine, assumed that I had exacerbated the situation. As is usual in these gatherings, nobody actually said anything: there was just a lot of audible tut-tutting and shaking of heads and staring.

"Where's your mummy?" I asked the sobbing child. She just howled even louder. I looked at the maternal jurywith a look that said: "I need both help and sympathy." It didn't work. I sensed a lynch mob forming. Again I turned to the girl and tried again, only more loudly: "WHERE IS YOUR MUMMY?"

She started howling and stamping her feet. One of the swimming instructors looked up. If this carried on, I would soon be the subject of a local newspaper exposé.

Suddenly a woman appeared from the other end of the gallery and grabbed the little girl, looking at me accusingly at the same time. I didn't bother to say anything. Resistance is futile. Tomorrow, I'm in a car on my way back to showbizland, where I at least understand some of the rules.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Engineer-(Support, ITIL, Software Vendor)

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Engineer-(Support, S...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Service Delivery and Support Manager

£55000 - £75000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: Service Deli...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Turkey and Qatar must step up the fight against Isis

Benedict Greening

Should America pay Isis ransom money to free hostages like James Foley?

Kim Sengupta
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home