22 March 1999
I went into the Marks & Spencer ladies business-wear section this week for the first time in nine years and was amazed to find it has expanded from the "Latvian air hostess" look in red or peacock blue with matching side-knotted scarf to an entire floor of foxy trouser-suits in mohair/chain-mail blends.
I fled to the coffee shop shaking and most unwilling to see if I could fit my corrugated tummy into what was being offered as an alternative to the forgiving elasticated waistband - trousers with a flat front and little metal clips where you expect a button, just like the Lawyer's business suits or (I always think) Deminimus' grey flannel shorts.
The time has come, now that Liability has gained advanced trampolining skills at nursery and is well on the way to driving the communal tractor solo, to find a job. Subjudice has given up on the idea of becoming Ally McBeal and now wants to be a surgeon, which I suspect means someone has been letting her watch Holby City while I'm at my evening class. And Deminimus will go to big school in the autumn, where he will learn morose, uncommunicative boy skills and his life will become a mystery to me, his Mother.
I need a life of my own and, besides, the Lawyer says we need the money. You can tell the annual pay bargaining round is coming up. They get panicky about paying unexpected things, like the paper bill, and you can hear them in the morning giving the mirror a good talking-to, practising chapter two of Bigger Better Pay Rises: How to Get What They Don't Want to Give Away.
The other day he asked me why I couldn't get a job that allowed me to drive an MGF, as Peter from corporate got out of a brand new one that morning driven by his wife - a costume jewellery agent and Ivana Trump lookalike. Because, I explained, the world of gold elephant brooches and butterfly shoe clasps is a dark mystery to me. The nearest I have got to elegance in years is standing next to Subjudice in her prohibitively expensive school blazer and boater.
She runs away from me at the school gate like a small Sally Gunnell, hurdling groups of toddlers and discarded PE bags in case her friends from Actuary Meadows and Consultants Hill see me waving, forlornly, in the Lawyer's weekend jumper and my gardening trousers.
Cars being important to the Lawyer, my nine-year-old Polo, which arrived about the same time as Subjudice, has become the symbol of our child-rearing years. I have seen him aiming a vicious kick at its rear quarters on the way out of the drive after a particularly trying breakfast, where two bowls of cornflakes went flying and his tie went up in flames as he tried to lever a burnt offering out of the toaster. He believes that if he could afford a sporty number to take him to the golf course on a Saturday morning he would somehow be lifted above the mundane aspects of bringing up a child.
As Deminimus will happily be sick on anyone's car seats, given a few road humps and three rousing choruses of Postman Pat, I am not so optimistic about the transcendent possibilities of car ownership. We are stuck with the old car until my new job comes along but, as I am not hopeful of finding a leather-seated roadster-type career and am rather expecting to end up with the comfortable family sized sort of run-around job with plenty of room in the back (and stain-resistant seats), I fear the Lawyer will be disappointed again.