E Jane Dickson: 'I'm too old to do kooky'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The movie in my head, occasioned by the purchase of a new trench coat, is an elegant film noir, a stylish black-and-white production (so much more flattering to the middle-aged profile - think Simone Signoret in Les Diaboliques) in which I move about the rainy city radiating enigmatic purpose.

The movie in my head, occasioned by the purchase of a new trench coat, is an elegant film noir, a stylish black-and-white production (so much more flattering to the middle-aged profile - think Simone Signoret in Les Diaboliques) in which I move about the rainy city radiating enigmatic purpose.

The movie of my life is pure Carry On. "I just need a knob," I announce to the sniggering delight of the queue behind me in the builders' merchant's.

"Let me show you what I've got, love," splutters the beardless boy behind the counter, leading me to a display board where, pathetically, I pick out a rather smaller handle than is actually required for the door to Conor's bedroom. Waiting for my change, I flick up the razor-sharp lapels of my mac in a withering kind of way, but the shopkeeper is too young to know about Simone Signoret and the gesture is lost.

Out in the street, where a freak hail storm makes my joy complete, everyone seems to be in on the joke. Complete strangers are smirking at me, and it is only when I catch sight of myself in a shop window that I remember that Clara's umbrella, which I snatched out of the hall cupboard as I ran out of the flat, sports not only ladybird markings and a smiley-bug face, but a large and flappy pair of wings. Hastily, I fumble with the film rolls in my mental projector. I am no longer La Signoret on her way to an afternoon assignment in the Marais, but Sarah Jessica Parker enjoying a "kooky" moment in Manhattan. Except that I'm too tall to "do" kooky and I slink up to the school gates feeling as foolish as I look.

As usual, I seem to be the only mum who has misjudged the weather. How do they do it? - these super-efficient mothers who send their children out to school equipped for every meteorological eventuality? Are there life rafts with a week's provisions packed, James Bond style, in their childrens' pencil cases? The sun was splitting the trees when we left for school this morning, and now here are Clara and Conor, shorts and summer dress clinging to their rain-chapped legs, while their mother is snug in her Mommie Dearest trenchcoat. (I'm beginning to hate this bloody coat, it's brought me nothing but trouble.) At least Clara has her umbrella, but the nylon cagoule I produce with a flourish for Con turns out, when unfolded, to be a travel pillow.

"Never mind, I'll do what the elephants do when it rains," says Conor resourcefully. "What's that?" asks a concerned mum, whose own offspring are shrouded neck-to-toe in breathable neoprene. "Get wet!" chirps Con, creasing up (it is his favourite joke), and we beat a soggy retreat before Concerned Mum can dial Social Services on her mobile.

Thank god for the video of Singin' in the Rain. By the time we've squelched home, the kids are hap-hap-happy again. As for me, I'm tending to the Gloria Swanson view of things.

The movies are getting smaller every day.

Comments