It’s all about control.
As long as you know the space a situation inhabits and how far you can go in each direction and as long as you never step outside that boundary you can do it all.
If I know how far I am from a meal for the Proles, where the nearest shelter is, how close to our car, my keys, my phone and a packet of wet wipes are, if I know where the spare pants are, where I keep the shovel and the torch and the wet weather gear, and exactly where I would go to find a bed for the Proles should I get stranded I don’t mind anything really.
But if I don’t know these things then I really don’t like it.
People are the variables for the most part.
I can plan for weather, car break down, cash point failure, wardrobe failure, bladder and occasionally bowel failure, extra hour between meals, cold snaps and terrible terrible emotional melt downs over who sits in which chair but there are things I cannot predict.
Mostly people.
People can ruin a day in a second.

I go to a cafe near my friends house, we go there to wait, to kill time or when food is necessary right then, that instant.
The staff are nice people, really lovely, but it’s like they are programmed to ruin the delicate balance if life with the Proles.
It is a gift they have.
I used to know a girl who could stop clocks just by standing near them.
I used to know another girl who affected car door locks and made the un-openable.
This lot are genetically pre-disposed to ruining lunch for mankind.
It’s subtle too.
The waiter bring in ‘beans ON toast’ instead of ‘beans BESIDE toast’.
He clearly thinks it petty that he gets that kind of response from our table.
It has happened several times now, despite asking really, really clearly and sharing a joke about the last time it happened.

Another time the card reader was not working and took six or seven minutes of head scratching to spark it into life. Six or seven minutes is a long time if you are five. long enough for both of them to lie down and start to go to sleep on the floor. I ended up sitting at a table and playing eye spy until I could pay for the food and feed the Proles. Twice I was told it was my card by different members of staff. In the end an eagle eyed KP noticed the card reader got unplugged every time the till was opened.

Owner: Never mind eh?

Me: No, never mind.

Pear juice instead of Apple juice. That did it the next time.

Accidental placement of ham on militant six year old animal rights campaigner’s plate.
Much apologising.
Prole1 wept all the way home for the ‘poor pig’.

Last week was the clincher.
Long day, good day, lots of laughing, running and throwing things in the sea.
Chasing seagulls and emptying sand out of wellies.
Like a Gap advert but with frankly under par models.
Snack time and it comes on to rain, snap decision, to the cafe.
Bit of a walk and we burst in to the slightly too hot cafe and I wrangle a tray into the queue.
Everyone in the village had the same idea so it took a while to get to the counter.
Prole1 starts to overheat and I am trying to get him out of his coat without upsetting the tray or the other customers.
Prole2 goes white as a sheet which spells cake deprivation but he is not too sure about the varied bakery products on offer.
We get near the front of the queue and I try to push the talks towards resolution.
Following tense negotiations, right in front of the owner, that went on for some time and were clearly very elaborate and specific, Prole2 said: I’ll have the Flapjack.

By this time he had loudly refused all other cakes, biscuits, pasties and croque monseurs.
Yes, they sell croque monseurs, I had to describe the contents of a croque monseur twice in front of the owner only to have them rejected. Quite right too, they have no place outside Soho in the nineties.

There were no flapjacks.

Me: Which one?

Prole2: That one.

It wasn’t a flapjack but it was close enough and more importantly it was a decision.

Me: Brilliant. One of those please.

Owner (loudly): That’s not a flapjack sonny.

Prole2, milky white skin and dark bags under his eyes, did the long slow turn with the eyes screwed up and collapse slowly to one side right next to the till.

There was a short pause and then a slow moan went up from under the counter. To most people this sounded like a small boy crying.
To me it sounded like twenty five minutes of wiping away tears, hugging, coaxing, reassuring and convincing that Prole2 eat something, to stop him being hungry, every minute knowing that he was getting hungrier and that was making him more upset. In a crowded cafe, full of clucking and tutting eyes flicking across me and the Proles. It was the sound of choosing whether to ride it out or get out of the cafe and try somewhere else.

I stared at the owner.
The pause continued. So did the moaning.

Me: Ok. it’s not a flapjack.

Owner: No.

Me: I did not ask you if it was a flapjack. You know it’s not a flapjack, I know it’s not a flapjack and all these people in the queue know it’s not a flapjack. I think the key thing here was HE though it was a flapjack which is why I just asked you for it without saying “I know that’s not a flapjack but can you put it on a plate and give it to me”

Owner: I didn’t want him to be disappointed.

Me (looking down on Prole2 who was in the foetal position at my feet) No. Because that would be bad.

Owner: There is no need to be like that mate. It’s not my fault.

And inside my head, welling up and crashing against my teeth were the words

YES.
IT.
IS.
Because Prole2 will cry and shout the place down until I can get us all safely to the table and I am ten feet from the nearest table, carrying a bulky bag of toddler nonsense, wearing my coat and hat in your baking hot cafe, with Prole1 headbutting my hip and the only option is to put the tray down and carry Prole2 to a seat, bumping everyone on the way with bag and toddler feet, take off my bag and coat then bump everyone on the way back back carrying Prole2 because he is just taking flight in what appears to be a thankfully rare but none the less impressive tantrum and try to recover the tray and re-negotiate food options, all of which have been rejected once already, twice in the case of the stupid croque monseur, then try to pay one handed with my card in your STUPID CARD READER THAT I ALREADY HATE and try to bump everyone with tray and child to the table without scalding him or me or one of you customers with hot tea, and try to stop Prole1 from engaging a hapless local in one of his weird conversations about evolution and Star Wars and get him back to the table without losing Prole2 and even then I HAVE NO GUARANTEE YOU ARE NOT GOING TO PUT THE BEANS ON PROLE1’S BLOODY TOAST.
It did not have to be this way but now, because you HAD to be pedantic about your over priced, soggy VIENNESE SLICE, everyone in this overcrowded cafe is staring at me and my fate is sealed.
WHAT KIND OF CORNISH FISHING VILLAGE NEEDS A LOCAL CAFE THAT SELLS CROQUE-BLOODY-MONSEURS AND VIENNESE SLICES?
WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH A PASTY AND A FLAPJACK?”

And what I actually said was: Well stick it on a plate and I will sort him out.

It’s all about control.

Advertisements