I have been Conference Widow this weekend, as the Lawyer lived it up in five-star splendour at a swanky Florentine hotel, and told the assembled mob of Euro-juro delegates how they do things in jolly old Blighty.
While Liability was being sick into the one good handbag I have left from the days when I too could call an office my home, the Lawyer was dining off bone china and tightening his lips into that appreciative little moue that men produce whenever a very expensive wine approaches the mouth.
The one time I spoke to him over the weekend was the Saturday morning, while I was patiently sitting at the poolside, cheering on a seriously flagging Subjudice as she attempted her first hundred metres crawl. I was cocooned in a swaddle of shrieking mothers, all of whom sounded far more convinced than I that their daughters were actually going to make it to the end without drowning.
“I can’t speak now!” he shouted into the mobile. “What’s that terrible noise?”
“Mothers sacrificing themselves on the altar of childhood,” I answered.
“Yes whatever,” he said, not listening. “Look, it’s all fine here, they really loved the speech, but it’s not worth listening to the rest of them. I’ve managed to cut the conference, and I’m outside the Uffizi. There’s a terrible queue. All I want to see is the David, anyway. Can you pick up the car from the garage?”
I toyed with the idea of letting him queue for two hours, and discover that the David is not at the Uffizi at all, but in fact at a small gallery where you can be in and out in 10 minutes, but my better nature prevailed. Goodness knows why.
At this point Subjudice was hauled out of the pool looking blue. I remembered about the car at 5.15pm, after the exhausting day of pre-teen shopping she demanded as a consolation for nearly expiring during the race. I had 30 minutes to get a taxi, insert three protesting children plus assorted toys and comfort blankets, and get to the garage. All this to pick up the Lawyer’s car, which he forgot to collect on Friday. Subbie had spent half an hour coating herself in body glitter at the Miss Jailbait shop in the mall, and smeared a lot of it over the back seat of the taxi, which didn’t help
It was when they were telling me that the car wasn’t ready that Liability was sick in my bag.
“OK everybody,” I said, after checking that it wasn’t a life-threatening condition, but rather a surfeit of chocolate buttons, “I’m going to have a quiet night if I have to pierce my eardrums to do it; down to the video shop.”
This was still such a grown-up treat for them that they went round-eyed and shut up instantly. This lasted until we got into the store and Liability spotted Rosie and Jim in the sale basket. “That’s for babies!” yelled Subjudice, waving South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut in the air, while Deminimus started a fist fight in the Playstation section. I made for the counter with Runaway Bride knowing that Subjudice would watch it with me if she thought it was grown up enough, Liability would fall asleep, and Deminimus would be happy with a bucket of ice cream and his pet dinosaur. The Lawyer’s mother would throw a fit if she could have seen us still lolling around on the sofa at 9pm, although I don’t suppose the Lawyer was in any better state. And at least I got to see Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, together again at last.