A nice American reader just told me he had to wikipedia Northumberland to see where it was. How cool is that? I wonder if I tell the local people that I have been acting as an ambassador for their country, in cyberspace y'kna, whether they will douse their burning brands before they set light to the house.
When I was not dealing with the backwash from Andrew Sullivan's kind mention, I was at the doctors with the children who were due to get their jabs. I am convinced that I am already marked down as a bad mother with the health visitor (God, don't you just hate health visitors?) because I regularly forget to turn up for one or other child's appointment. It is not that I do not care about my children's future welfare. I am their mother and when it suits me, I care a lot. It is possible, however, that I do not write things down as I should. If at all. Apart from on my hand. I write things there because you cannot lose your hand, unless you are very unlucky. You do wash it though which is where my system occasionally falls down.
I went on to lose further brownie points with the nurses because we are still not MMRing. I realise this is an incredibly "yesterday" standpoint, the debate has moved on and we probably should be ramming needles into them willy-nilly for the sake of the public good. But we spent so long agonising about it for the eldest, I cannot bear to go there again.
After the deeply unfashionable MMR confession, I then had to admit to the entire waiting room, that I had lost not just the baby's "little red book" where all the medical notes are kept, but the four-year-old's as well which made the nurses sigh deeply and the other waiting parents look at me in wonder. "Call yourself a mother?" hung unspoken in the air. You just know they all keep their children's little red books in manilla folders with the words "Children's little red books" marked on them. At least I didn't fall for the obvious trap laid by the nurse who shot the baby up, after I had been chatting to her about how violent boys can be.
"All you can do is say to them, 'I don't hit you, so don't you hit your brother'."
Nope. Wasn't falling for that one.
But the closest they came to calling social services was the moment I started picking up leaflets from the windowsill with the dusty money tree on it. Picking up leaflets in the doctors' surgery is definitely something no-one should ever do. It is akin, up here at least, to taking out an advert in the local paper admitting you have gonorrhoea. I hasten to add that was not the leaflet I picked up. Instead, I gathered together a little package of paper guides on "panic", "shyness and social anxiety", "stress and anxiety" and "stress". I was intrigued by the fine distinctions at play. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the nurse watching which leaflet I was picking up next. She was thinking: "It'll be the gonorrehoea next you know."
The guides, it turns out, are stuffed full of handy hints like this one from the panic leaflet.
"THE TRUTH IS: NOTHING AWFUL IS GOING TO HAPPEN, AS PANIC ATTACKS ARE NOT DANGEROUS."
Theses words are written in really big letters, some of them in bold, presumably in case anyone who might have been reading the leaflet had been relaxing for a change.
Meanwhile, the shyness and social anxiety leaflet warns that if you think you suffer from social anxiety: "You may think 'I'm boring' or 'I'm strange'" and goes on "After you've been in a social situation you think 'that was awful', 'I looked so stupid'." Doesn't everyone feel like that all of the time? Apparently not, I have just been suffering from acute shyness and social anxiety all these years and all I needed was a leaflet. Anyway, I find it hard to believe that anyone suffering from shyness and social anxiety would even pick up the leaflet. Someone might see them and shout very loudly: "Nurse, this woman just picked up the shyness leaflet."