7 May 2001
Wednesday morning was spent down at the doctors, for our youngest child had thoughtfully inserted a paper clip up her nose. When asked why she had done it, she answered: "To see how far it would go." A reply which, I fear, dooms us to a lifetime of waiting for the police to knock at the door.
Having had some experience of young children putting things where they shouldn't, I know that A&E is no good - a three-hour wait brings you a junior doctor who treats small people as if they could bite your hand off (very few, alas, are the George Clooneys of this world).
So we go to the GP, who has a technique involving Vaseline, a wooden lolly stick and a Minnie Mouse glove puppet that gets things out of the nose in a trice. I should do it myself, but my hands start shaking as soon as one of my own brood gets hurt - whereas I pick grit out of other toddlers' bloody knees without a qualm - and I fear that the lolly stick would end up in there, too.
We got there to find the room full of elderly ladies and one man in a suit, which merited him special attention from the practice receptionist, who ushered him in to see the doctor first. He was obviously saving all his ailments up, because we were still there half an hour later, and Liability had done her ballet steps for every single one of the elderly ladies, who were now hiding behind old copies of Hello! magazine. Liability went to listen at the door, which I didn't notice for a while because I was engrossed in the details of Catherine Zeta Jones' wedding.
"They're not talking, Mum," said Liability, loudly. "There's just breathing going on." I tried to pretend she didn't belong to me, and the man in the suit came out. Liability ran up to him, tugged on his suit pocket (I heard a very small ripping sound), and asked: "Are you a silly sitter, like my daddy?"
Man in suit looked down at her and worked out what she was saying. He obviously was a solicitor, probably intellectual property (who, in their defence, are the only lawyers capable of abstract thought), because he threw this stunner back at her: "I don't know. Are there any solicitors like your daddy?"
Liability looked at him as if his face had fallen off (such is her invariable response to people who are talking rubbish). Then light dawned.
"Of course, no one is quite like my daddy, you're quite right," she said.
I beamed round the assembled ladies, expecting a paean of praise from my lovely daughter. "He always runs out the back door when Granny comes round, and I don't 'spect anyone else does that. I don't 'spect anyone else forgets Mummy's birthday like he does. And he's always writing 'United are the best' everywhere - it's on my sister's homework, and three times on my new Maisie book."
Man in suit started violently and said: "I don't suppose your daddy works for Megatch Arge Outwraite?"
"I don't know. I'll ask Mummy," said Liability, who turned and bawled: "Mummy, does Daddy work for Megajarwararrar?" at the top of her voice before I could get to her and clamp a hand over her mouth.
I introduced myself. It turned out that man in suit had just joined the firm and was doing the medical. I asked, half fearfully, whether he really knew my husband.
"Of course. I found him writing 'United are the best' underneath the boardroom table yesterday, just where the managing partner sits. Said it gave him enormous satisfaction, because the MP's a Chelsea man."