Well. We arrived. Safe and sound. No hiccups. We ignored the frustrated tut-tutting and cross looks from commuters in London when we stood on the wrong side of the escalators weighed down with enormous suitcases which made us impossible to pass. By the time we boarded our train north, I was almost hysterical with relief which embarrassed my children because I laughed too loudly on the train which made everybody stare. Especially the man opposite us who was trying to conduct a telephone call.

Today has been spent trying to attire ourselves with a wardrobe sufficiently respectable to present ourselves at assorted schools for interviews. We had to start from scratch; as Amelia observed on our way to the shops, ‘the only thing I am wearing that is not second hand is my pants’. Generally we are dressed in mitumba – literally translated as ‘second hand’ – having been acquired in the local African markets. So – aside from pants – we had to buy everything: shirts, shoes, skirts and trousers for Ben. Which was tricky. He is tall and thin. It is like trying to dress a bean. Which also made me laugh. Loudly. In Next. Ben got cross and told me to shut up because everybody was staring. Again.

Shoes as far as Ben was concerned were easy. Black. Laces. Cheap (Ben is the sort of person who reads the prices on the menu before ordering). Footwear was trickier as far as Amelia was concerned. We went from sky high heels to pink and green camouflage pumps to decidedly inappropriate boots. We compromised – finally (with her perched on a stool in the umpteenth shoe shop looking like a disgruntled Cinderella with dozens of shoes scattered at her feet) – on a pair of blue pumps with a kitten heel. They are ghastly. She loves them. Partly because I hate them and partly because it means that – wearing them – she will be even taller than me. I have remembered to take the price labels off the soles and the tags out of collars.

I gave up trying to buy something to wear so that I could masquerade as proper sensible mother. Instead I shall go in trousers, old denim jacket and large, loud African beads which I habitually wear. ‘Great’, said Amelia, ‘you’re going to look cool and I’m going to look like my great-grandmother dressed me’.


Tomorrow is the village fete.

What’s a fate, asked Hat.

Fete, I said, not fate. But I didn’t know the answer. My mother hissed, ‘tell her its somewhere to spend money’.

‘No’, I said, ‘please don’t’.

Instead I smiled and offered a ‘let’s wait and see’.

So we will.

In the meantime Hat is marvelling that at 6.31 it is still light. I will not marvel if she comes to tell me it’s already light at 4.31 tomorrow morning, that would be tempting fate.


One Response to “Arrived”

  1. Mapesbury Mum Says:

    Welcome to England – you forgot to bring the sun with you! Good luck with all the interviews and try not to embarass your children too much….!

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