Wednesday, 2 November 2011


“Help!” Comes an urgent voice from upstairs. I can hear water running. “Help! Mum! Dad!" It’s Eldest in the shower. What’s happened to him? Is he scalded? Has he slipped and broken something? A thousand different disasters flash through my mind, I’m nothing if not imaginative when it comes to possible catastrophes to befall my children. Home a bit late from school? Obviously abducted by one of those drunks who hangs out by the dried up pond on the common - no matter that they don’t have the coordination to pee in a straight line, let alone to steal a child. Still asleep at an unnaturally late hour on a Sunday morning? It’s one of those rare older child cot deaths, or meningitis - like with Michael Rosen’s son (so unbelievably tragic).

No, I’ve guessed it: he’s got trapped somehow, like my father did all those years ago. He was just taking a shower at home prior to flying off somewhere to a conference. He was alone in the house and the shower door jammed. Imagine it: naked and freezing with a sheet of impenetrable glass between you and freedom. I think he remained like that for some time until he managed to scramble his lanky six-foot frame up and over the top, squeezing between the tiny space and the ceiling with the knowledge that it could all crash beneath him at any moment. It didn’t, thank goodness.

So, lying in my bed first thing this morning, clutching the cup of tea Husband has kindly brought for me (as usual) and listening to the whole world going to hell in a handbasket on Radio 4 (as usual) that’s what I decide has happened to Eldest. He’s trapped in the shower. But hang on a minute - it’s an over bath shower up there, there’s no door…

“Help!” Comes the desperate voice again, “I need help! It’s urgent!”

“What!” Husband calls, dashing to the rescue as I scramble from under the duvet, grabbing at the dressing gown strewn on the floor (can’t appear naked in front of eldest son any more, he’s 15). I get to the landing just in time to meet husband coming down again from the top floor. There's a grim look on his face.

“What’s the matter? What is it? Is he okay?”

“He’s fine,” he says. “He’s run out of shampoo.”

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