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Do you remember The Blair Witch Project? There was a bit right near the end where two of them are walking round the house. I can’t remember who’s holding the camera, whether it’s the snotty girl or the chap who’s not dead yet. Whoever it is, they’re walking round in a wobbly way, and (I think) they hear a noise, rush down to investigate, and find their companion standing with their back to them, pressed in to the corner, unmoving. Brrr.*

This is the image that flashed into my mind yesterday while I was eating a chocolatey marshmallow snack, pressed into the corner of the kitchen, with my back to Teddy while he scampered about with sharp, un-child-friendly implements in his chubby little fists, milliseconds away from life-threatening injuries at every turn. But, you know, I wanted a Wagon Wheel.**

It occurred to me that at some point in the near future we need to adjust a) our eating habits, and b) the contents of our kitchen cupboards. Both of these things fill me with gloom. But we’ve reached a part in Teddy’s development where he just doesn’t believe me anymore when I say things like, “No, sweetheart, that’s not a NICE thing, it’s a BAD-TASTING grown-up thing with VEGETABLES in it,” while he’s pointing desperately at the packet of dark chocolate digestives.

I’m going to try and avoid the problem for the moment – after all, I’m pregnant, and pregnant people need Wagon Wheels, and that’s all there is to it.

There is some residual guilt, however. I remember now that I enthusiastically told fellow pram-pushers that I loved Teddy facing me in the pram, so we could “chat” en route to the supermarket or the park*** – and then the second that he understood that the 83 Penguin bars I ate while we got there looked a little bit appealing, I switched him round to be front-facing “so he could enjoy looking at the cars and buses”.

The other thing I’ve been doing this week, aside from secret retro chocolate snack eating, is packing my hospital bag. It’s a bit early for all of this, but – quite simply – I’ve got naff all else to do, and I do so like a LIST.

This time I had printed out a list from the Internet (sometimes the Internet can be Very Wise) so I could tick it as I went along, and most of it made sense:

  • Clothes and nappies for baby – TICK
  • Tens machine, for all the good it did me the first time round – TICK
  • Lip salve for dry lips syndrome after litres of gas and air – TICK
  • Lots of pants – TICK
  • Various packets of disposable things you get upstairs in Boots in an aisle far away from anything palatable that we don’t need to go into at this juncture (there may be people reading this who have no desperate desire to discover the grim physicalities of what happens to a person after another person emerges from it) – TICK

And then there were some things that were stupid:

  • An eye mask so you can sleep even underneath bright, hospital lights – NO TICK: YOU DO NOT SLEEP IN HOSPITAL AFTER YOU’VE HAD A BABY, YOU STAY AWAKE, LOOKING AT IT AND HOPING IT’S BREATHING.
  • Change for the phone – NO TICK: WAS THIS WRITTEN IN 1842?

So obviously I didn’t pack those things. However, as I was packing – and readjusting this list – I realised that a lot of the stuff I had in my hospital bag for Teddy was still in the bathroom cupboard, in a perfectly presentable condition. This was useful, I thought. But on closer examination, it transpired that the reason why the stuff was in a perfectly presentably condition was because there was no need for me to take it with us in the first place. But I still packed it.

This included – but wasn’t limited to – a makeup bag. With actual makeup in it. Powder, eyebrow thing, mascara. Not much, but some. And all of it was in its original wrappers. Because I hadn’t used it. Why hadn’t I used it? Because I’d just had a SODDING BABY. Who gives a monkeys if ones eyebrows have disappeared? Or ones eyes aren’t perfectly defined? Only the most vacuous media monkey from one of those reality TV programmes, surely?

But, it turns out, I gave a monkeys back then – but only in the weeks leading up to the birth. And the only reason I did was because I knew that the Bounty People were on the prowl. They stalk the maternity wards of the RUH like the Stasi in blue eyeshadow, clutching miniature pots of Sudacrem and a cheap Kodak, on the lookout for unsuspecting first-time parents, forcing them to be photographed at their most vulnerable, looking like total crap, awash with the first inklings of parental guilt. Parents that think: if everyone else is doing it, I better do it too. And pay rather a lot of money for the privilege of owning some photos that in years to come tabloid newspapers could dig up and threaten to publish (you know, once I’m famous and beautiful and amazing).

The Bounty Hunters, however, never appeared when we had Teddy – I’m not sure what happened to them; something sinister, perhaps. And this time, with Tedderina, if they’ve escaped the gulag and are once more on the prowl, I shall tell them to bugger off. I feel guilty about a lot of things, but I certainly don’t feel guilty about not having an expensive photograph of me and him while I was both off my rocks on morphine AND eyebrow-less.

And yet, despite all this, the makeup bag is still packed Just In Case, taking up space which would be better filled by something useful. Like a packet of Wagon Wheels.


*I didn’t understand quite a lot of The Blair Witch Project. It didn’t stop me from being scared out of my trousers, but still I don’t mind admitting that I was never quite sure what was going on. Apart from the thing with the twigs. That was a bit unnerving.

**As much as I don’t understand The Blair Witch Project, I’m not suggesting for one minute that the character that was standing against the wall was eating a Wagon Wheel. Although now I come to think about it, it makes perfect sense.

*** Who am I kidding? Always the supermarket. For Wagon Wheels.