Saturday, 20 February 2016

Criminally Mumsy

I nearly felt the long arm of the law this week, and it was during something as seemingly harmless as trundling round the neighbourhood with little miss for an afternoon walk.

While we call a modest maisonette in an in-betweeny bit of town home, a mere ten minutes of pavement-pounding gets us into seven-figure-salary territory: millionaires' rows of mansions and farmhouses often with impossibly pretentious or infuriatingly ironic names (I've lost count of the amount of sprawling Mock Tudor piles which are a 'cottage' in their owner's eyes).

It's these parts of the neighbourhood which I like to trudge round when I take little miss out for a walk in the pram, partly because they're the most scenic routes but mainly because I want to imprint in her mind from early on that these are just the kind of houses that she might want to buy for her doting parents to eke out their twilight years when she's rich and famous.

This week, I made the mistake of turning down a particularly Arcadian avenue boasting extensive driveways and oodles of old world opulence.  When I got to the end of the road and realised the route I wanted to take lacked a pavement, I had to turn around and give those halcyon homesteads a repeat viewing.

Then I spotted the police car inching towards me.  The officers were driving slowly and keeping a watchful eye on me and little miss, as if they were trying to work out whether I was a harmless down-and-out who had simply got lost or a more unsavoury individual staking out the well-heeled neighbourhood or trying to peddle narcotics and designer knock-offs out of my baby's pram.  I can only assume that some local dowager looked out of her parlour window and didn't like the look of the wild-haired woman shuffling down her road with her equally shifty sprog.

I probably hadn't done myself many favours on the 'respectable or riff raff?' front, given that I was wearing a battered, buttonless parka, maternity yoga pants and grubby trainers, crowned with a mumsy mane of lank, unbrushed hair.  As I got closer to the car I was trying to work out what I could say to stop the police from bundling us away, pram and all, or slapping me with a trespassing fine on a par with the local homeowners' salaries.

Luckily it didn't come to that in the end, as the car sidled past me, only stopping one further time when we had turned out of the road to check that we were well and truly exiting the neighbourhood.

Maybe I'll wear a Barbour, twinset and (fake) pearls if I want to chance my arm at blending in down that road again.  However, I think people sometimes don't understand that when you're a relatively new mother, getting dressed and leaving the house is an achievement, and your first priority isn't making yourself look immaculate but finding some clean clothes that fit and getting your baby out of the house in the tiny window between naps, feeds and mini-meltdowns.  Perhaps if the police do ever collar me for trespassing well out of my comfort zone and salary bracket, I should maintain innocence and just hand over little miss.  She's the sleep thief after all!