Tiny beads of sweat are running down the back of Husband's neck. He's bent double, trying to get This is Spinal Tap to play as ten twelve year-old boys (and one thirteen year-old and a nine year-old) leap and twirl across the floor behind him. One boy picks up an empty plastic water gun and hits another over the head with it. Like a pair of clammy hands on a steering wheel, we are in danger of losing control.
I look at my watch: 5.10. Can the party really have began only ten minutes ago? The parents won’t be back to collect the little darlings for two hours and fifty minutes and I didn’t plan any games. (Middle One, whose party it is, says they are ‘way too old for games ’.) I always plan games. Lots of them. Usually back to back activities to take up every single minute. I have a great line in marshmallow and dry spaghetti sculptures. Now I'm beginning to regret saying they could, “just hang out, watch a movie, have pizza and eat pop corn…"
I ring Eldest, who has inconveniently gone out. “Where are you? We need you to get the DVD to play in your X Box.”
“I’m at D’s house. Surely one of those boys knows how to do it?”
He asks to speak to Husband. Husband says, “what the hell are you talking about?” and, “I already tried that,” over and over again down the phone. Then he abandons trying to get the X Box to play the DVD and tries to get the DVD player to play the DVD instead. We need a scarp lead, apparently (he is muttering this to himself). Or is it a scart lead? I have no idea. I dash over to friends, who live opposite.
When I get back with said scart lead the DVD is finally playing and order, of sorts, has been restored. Thank God. But then it starts glitching. “The DVD is glitching,” says Middle One, stating the bleeding obvious.
I ring Eldest again. “Now it’s glitching.”
He sighs."It only glitches if it’s an old or damaged DVD."
But the DVD is neither old nor damaged. It is brand new. It was one of Middle One’s birthday presents.
I run over to friend’s house again and stand, panting, in their hallway, noting how peaceful it is with hardly anyone around, only two little boys, quiet and motionless as freeze-frames, watching a DVD in their front room - ironically.
“Have you got This is Spinal Tap?” We start to look for it in their collection, then I realise I left our front door open so dash home to close it. Then friend’s daughter appears on the doorstep with the DVD and I scramble downstairs at top speed to the basement clutching it in my sweaty little hand. Half way down I am hit by an auditory wall of hooting and wailing.
“I have another one!”