Legal Widow

Liability started school this year, and during the drive to the school on her first day she took all her clothes off and threw them out of the window without me noticing. To tell the truth, I ignored Subjudice’s laconic remark that Liability was bare naked in the back because I was so keen to get rid of them all and return to a bit of peace at home. I suppose I should take it as a compliment that she should prefer my company to that of schoolteachers, but parking nine times on double yellow lines in rush hour to pick up a small girl’s clothing does not make for a happy home in anyone’s book. We tried again after I’d dropped the others off, when I made her sit in the front and yelled at the top of my voice that if she so much as touched the hem of her skirt… (Box pleat, grey flannel – lovely. It makes me think of Malory Towers.)
I returned home to find the Lawyer equally reluctant to accept La Rentrée as a fact of life (yes, it was another Eurocamp holiday this year, including a very nasty experience with a bowl of moules frites) and mooching around plucking up courage to ring in and say he was taking an extra couple of days off.
He got as far as putting his suit trousers on, uttering small noises of pleasure at fitting into them so easily (there is simply no better diet than a dodgy bowl of moules frites, I always say) and then slumped on the bed, saying that he had another 30 years of this to go, and surely Man was made for better things? I helped no end by saying it was actually nearer 20 years, which set him off on another downward spiral. Sometimes I think France is bad for one: the sun shines, the roads are clear, even the most humble restaurant serves delightful food, and if you pick your resort carefully there is not a barebreasted Englishman in sight, except on the beach, where God allows them. It’s the country where men can wear lemon-yellow, short-sleeved shirts to work and walk about with natty little sacoches tucked under their arms, a civilised habit which speaks to the deepest desire of all men to carry handbags. Or maybe that’s just the Lawyer.
He listened to my tale of Liability’s anti-school protest with great interest. “What if I said you’d cut up all my suits in a fit of rage?” he asked. “Then I wouldn’t have to go in today.”
“I’m afraid you’re just going to have to go,” I said, in my sternest ‘we’re paying a fortune for this so you’re going to piano/tennis/school whether you like it or not’ voice. It cows bolshie 11-year-olds, so I had no fear of using it on the Lawyer.
“One more day,” he pleaded. Successfully. I must be losing my touch.
At 3.30 he went to pick up Liability and was duly made a fuss of by all the mums, who think that a man so much as wiping a child’s nose qualifies for a sainthood. Liability had had a blast, making best friends with the school bully and terrorising the smallest children into handing over their lunchboxes.
“Daddy, why aren’t you at work?” she asked. “I’ve had a lovely time. Look: 14 Kit Kats! Guess what: Miranda Hutchinson wet her knickers, only she didn’t have any on.”
The Lawyer was suddenly struck with a pang of officesickness, as he’s had absolutely no gossip for three weeks. And sure enough, there was no trouble getting him off to work the next day.