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Are you the nanny?

July 19, 2012

There have been two incidents recently which have made me feel rather odd, one a street side encounter and the other over the airways … both tie in with the whole age issue which seems to be topical at the moment.

When I was in London last week I had to unload a car full of Hope’s paraphernalia on a busy street at the same time as ensuring she was OK and then manage to get the double parked car with its flashing hazard lights on watched while I, carrying Hope in the carry pouch, made about 5 journeys to a basement flat with her bed, its base, clothes for us both, changing bags, welly boots and so on, and then go back up put her in the car seat and drive to find somewhere to park before walking back to the flat to zonk absolutely exhausted. The free parking lasted until 8.30am… so, at 8.20 after a night with alot of broken sleep I had to put Hope in the car seat (having left the carrying pouch in the car), put my sun glasses on to disguise the shocking way I looked and belt back up to the car (how heavy are car seats??) to feed the parking meter before carrying her back down to the flat to have a cup of hot water and feed her and have another doze! Anyway, while I was lugging the Hope filled car seat to the car a large chap in a pin striped suit emerged from one of the beautiful houses on the South Kensington crescent and came straight over (oh and it was raining) and said, “What a beautiful baby”, I thanked him and carried on putting money in the meter, he then proceeded to open his wallet and get a note or £20 out and put it into the side of the car seat… I was so indignant, but he nodded at me in a very self assured manner and said, “it’s for the baby”, looked at Hope and then back at the banshee that was carrying her and said, “Are you the nanny?” I was torn between laughing and punching him (no I’ve never punched anyone in my life but you know what I mean …), I sighed and looked at Hope’s perfect translucent skin and fair tufty curl and then at my own dishevelled reflection in the car window and thought that nobody in that area of London would employ such a scruffy looking nanny … I answered, “no I’m her mother” … he looked shocked and then muttered something about me looking too relaxed around her to be her mother … I took it to mean looking in too much of a state … and smiled to myself as he scuttled off rather embarrassed.

Earlier in the week I’d been on the radio. After the success and fun of the Radio 5 Live interview I agreed to appear on BBC Radio Lincs and Humberside … I was sitting with Hope on my lap and looking forward to it as I listened to the DJ chap interview Cari Rosen (who was on with me again, or rather I was on with her). He was friendly enough, but as soon as he’d finished tenderising her he turned on me and started asking all sorts of accusatory questions about me being an older mother, was I embarrassed? Did I pick up on society’s disapproval? and so on … if I’d had my wits about me I’d have fought back with cutting insightful answers and made him look as small as me made me feel, or simply brushed it off. I didn’t, I was so sidelined that I burbled (there’s a surprise) and waffled and really just dug myself into a great big hole. He was like a terrier with a baby rabbit and kept on asking how old I thought was too old to have a first baby, I told him the IVF cut of ages and he just carried on, “no, how old do YOU think is too old”, I wittered on about love and a supportive family environment and he cut through and asked me again. I rather lamely said 55 … a figure I plucked from the air and obviously couldn’t substantiate … all in all it was shocking and made me feel very inadequate. I was relieved to hear from a friend who works at the same station that most people thought of him as a one trick pony with an over aggressive line of questioning … but it did get me wondering. No, not about the age as he was wondering, but about the fact there didn’t seem to be any issue with men having children late in life. Clearly there aren’t health risks as there would be to a woman (think about my heart), but men are just as likely to be falling to bits, more likely to die earlier and … well just as likely to come last in the egg and spoon race as any older mother.

Next time I’ll be more prepared, and the meantime apparently giving money to babies is meant to be lucky for the baby and for the person who gives it to them … so I should thank the chap for his kindness even though I’m still smarting slightly about the nanny comment … and laughing thinking about Mary Poppins.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2012 1:19 am

    Don’t be too hard on Mr Pinstripe! I grew up around there and know that some (but not all) men like that tend to feel awkward around children. He’s probably used to seeing mothers who are a little too conscious of how they/their children/husbands/homes/etc. come across to other people. You just get on with it and put Hope first. His wife probably still wears those velvet Alice bands.

    As for that interviewer, I had a similar experience in that the one I spoke to seemed to be trying to pick a fight. He kept asking me stupid questions that were guaranteed to get my back up. I suspect they think they’ll get a better result if they provoke the person they are speaking to but it just makes them sound like Alan Partridge. Aha…

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