Pity Maclaren. Not only has the great stroller recall cost it dearly in terms of mummy goodwill, but the "fingertip amputation" débâcle risks turning a former buggy benchmark-setter into the pariah of the pushchair world.
For starters, its admission that little hands are at risk if they're in the wrong place come folding time – and nobody buys a Maclaren to keep it unfolded – will force a string of stroller me-toos to follow suit and admit culpability if the odd digit goes missing. Then there's the wider message the affair sends out to parents. Personally, I'm hearing: "Why bother with a buggy in the first place?"
Think back, fellow mums and dads, to that heady time pre-birth when you were busy stressing about all the baby paraphernalia you needed to acquire. I'm willing to bet that a pushchair was way up at the top of the list (guilty). And these days, it wouldn't just have been any old pushchair. No, you'd have wasted precious baby-free hours worrying about exactly what kind of stroller statement you wanted your purchase to send out (guilty).
Did you want your baby facing you, or facing the street? At eye height or exhaust fume level? Lying prone from day one in a bassinet or wedged into a car-seat attachment until she is old enough to graduate to the buggy version? Should you succumb to the middle-class peer pressure of a Bugaboo or attempt something a bit more original? Oh, the indecision (guilty, guilty, guilty, and guilty).
Furthermore, if you think the troubles stop once you've shelled out the small fortune you mistakenly believed would buy you buggy bliss (guilty), then think again. In my experience, it's only once you start using the damn thing that your problems really begin. I refer, of course, to those initial attempts to take your precious bundle out for a stroll. While you might be excited about pushing your new purchase down the street, your little cargo might not share your enthusiasm. Oblivious to the dent in your bank balance, he is likely to holler his displeasure at being anywhere other than in your arms, given that even they make a poor substitute for the comfort of your (or your partner's) belly.
Yet you will persist with your pram plans because otherwise how will you fulfill your Mary Poppins fantasy of wheeling around your 21st-century perambulator or feel you are getting value for money (ahem, guilty squared)? What I want to know, is why didn't anyone tell me to save my cash? That I might as well just buy a sling – or fashion my own – since that way both my baby and I would be a lot happier: he'd be bundled up all snug and I wouldn't have to feel a mug as I pushed my empty pushchair down the street while carrying my baby.
There would have been wider social benefits as well. Think of all those ankles I wouldn't have scraped; all that space I'd have saved on buses; all that time I'd have saved people desperate to push past me on the escalators/street/supermarket queues that my buggy and I have blocked in recent months.
Perhaps most revolutionary, in a buggy-free world children might actually get to use their legs and walk, which would help deal with childhood obesity, rather than get pushed around until they are at least six years old just because their parents are still trying to improve that cost per usage ratio on their purchase. And that's if they only bought the one: many households these days are multiple buggy zones with the Bugaboo and its fellow clunky brethren no good for jogging, flying or travelling by Tube.
I know buggy advocates will insist they're indispensable when it comes to letting children nap on the move but if you ask me, 19 times out of 20 they don't do anything that a really decent baby carrier can't manage. The only time I'll concede I would miss my pushchair is at the airport. You can't beat it as a luggage trolley.