Legal Widow

Bad day on Saturday – I couldn’t get into my car at the supermarket. “Listen you,” I said to the car, clicking my electronic beep thing in despair. “If your mechanism is going bump – and I can hear it from here – that means you’ve got to open, you stupid bloody petrol-eating bloody thing!”

Liability started swearing in sympathy, and I imagined the Lawyer spitting out his tea if she kept it up into the evening.

He gets quite clammy-handed if he hears too much blinking and beeping at work. Once he came home with a facial twitch after smiling rigidly through lunch with the managing partner from deepest Tyneside, who alternates swigs of Gaviscon with a searing commentary on the state of his guts and the company’s average charge-out rate.

For true blue commentary he should spend more time with his son. Deminimus was now swearing fit to burst, and kicking the car’s tyres.

I entered that state where you wonder if these little monsters really are your children, or whether they were switched at birth – whether you gave birth at all or just ended up with them by accident after a wisdom tooth operation went wrong.

“Hello, darling. Having a spot of bother?” It was Jocasta, glamorous wife of the head of litigation, dressed in white jeans and suede jacket and bearing two punnets of strawberries and a pint of double cream. My carrier bags were disgorging oranges and night-time nappies all over the asphalt.

“You don’t look like the AA man,” shouted Deminimus.

“What a sweet boy,” said Jocasta. “But do keep your hands away from my trousers darling. My husband works with your daddy. Is he not here then? Probably at the office. What a lot of time your daddy spends at the office, my Rodney always says!”

I shot her a withering look suspecting some slight. It surely wasn’t a compliment – rude Rodney is famed as the man who let the door swing back into his pregnant secretary’s bump. The child came out with a flat forehead and the secretary never came back from maternity leave.

Was it even some coded criticism – your husband the plodder, perhaps? Your husband the man who can’t delegate? Even, horrors, your husband who’s really not spending much time in the office at all, but instead can be found in the betting shop? Or room 10 of the local Roadside Motel?

At this moment Liability launched into a run towards us, brandishing a sticky red lollipop and Jocasta fled in terror.

My mobile rang. “Where are you?” snapped the Lawyer, whose voice was drowned by shrieking from the swimming pool. “Subjudice is cold and wants to go home.”

I was overcome by hot motherly guilt before I gathered my wits enough to snap back: “If she’s finished her class then let her get changed and take her home for Christ’s sake!”

He whispered: “But I can’t go into the women’s changing rooms with her!”

I gave my electronic bleep thing a good thumbing.

The green car three spaces down clunked into life, and I realised I had spent half an hour trying to get into someone else’s car. Not even the same car, just the same colour.

“Shut your eyes, kids! I’m going to do some magic!” I said, and carried them, squealing vigorously, to the car, threw them inside with the loose nappies and asphalt-bruised oranges.

“It’s magic, mummy!” shouted Liability.

With any luck, the Lawyer will never know.