Wednesday, 10 October 2007

A trip to Oxford

Here's a rare picture of Grit, so treasure it. Squirrel, Tiger and Shark are asleep in the sofa bed, double bed and pull-out. Grit's in the bathroom as the only place left to drink a beer with the light on. And the Travelodge Hotel on the Woodstock Road in Oxford is where Grit, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are staying tonight.

Dig, meanwhile, is staying in the posh hotel in Oxford, eating posh food, drinking posh wine, and being feted by posh people who dress nice, don't scream that they hate the world and everybody in it, and who use a knife and fork properly and not as weapons with which to attack their dining partners.

Staying in the Woodstock Road Travelodge while Dig does important things down the road all seemed like a good idea when I embarked on it. You see it's part of my long-held fantasy of travelling about trouble-free in home ed happiness, searching out art galleries, museums, science parks and gardens all over England. In this fantasy, me, Squirrel, Tiger and Shark stay overnight cheaply and simply in a Travelodge family room, see the wondrous sights, and come home again. A simple vision for a simple life. The Woodstock Road Travelodge is our first experiment.

I cannot say that so far it has gone particularly well. Despite explaining to Elizabeth Hurley at least forty times yesterday that the Grit and Dig family is out tonight, she has affected total surprise at our departure this morning and asked what should she do for dinner.

On the journey here, Tiger has been complaining and angry about having to sit in the car, be near a sister, look out of the window, listen to a story, be taken to a Roman villa site and, she says, being forced to look at a horse when it's not fair because Shark saw it first and Shark does everything first so why should she because there is no point.

Then it gets worse. Once we drop Dig off we attempt to visit a local wildlife park. I get to the pay booth and Tiger's angry complaints have descended into a screaming fit, so I turn away with apologies and pull into a lay-by so that Tiger can jump out of the car and kick her car seat to bits.

Once Tiger's calmed down enough we get back to the Travelodge and I drop the keys down the toilet. I have to scoop them out with my hand because the coat hangers are locked onto the wardrobe rail. At least this makes the big fight about the toy unicorns, which get banned from the room and imprisoned in the car, less of a torture than it otherwise might have appeared.

Then tonight Mummy Grit offers Squirrel, Shark and Tiger a drive into Oxford to get some chips. For the first ten minutes in the car, all goes well. Then somewhere approaching Carfax, Tiger's rage returns with a vengeance and she threatens to smash the car windows in while kicking me as I'm driving, thus forcing Mummy Grit to do an emergency stop, stick all the hazards on, and burst into tears.

When I've composed myself enough to move away from the traffic lights where I've stalled to a hazardous halt, I drive on to find a chippie. I take Squirrel and Shark inside with me, and suffer the suspicious questioning of fryer Rocky who is probably alarmed by the sight of a dishevelled, disoriented woman towing two anxious-looking children about at 8 o'clock at night while a third child appears to be locked in the car, screaming. In truth I have left Tiger in the car either to smash her way out or calm down. Fortunately, she chooses the latter and, along with her sisters, is equipped with a comforting bag of hot chips for the journey back to the room.

Unfortunately, because I'm disoriented, I have no idea where I am. This is pretty good going as I lived in Oxford for a year, but at the moment total memory loss seems to be par for the course: yesterday I lost a piece of the oven. Anyway, I reason we are somewhere in the centre of Oxford and will get out. We do get out. But not before I have driven almost a full circuit round the Oxford ring road looking for the Woodstock Road Travelodge.

And there you have it. I'm sitting in the bathroom, drinking beer while the kids are all asleep, and decide to photograph the moment. And if you are wondering where Grit is sitting since there are not usually chairs in bathrooms in your average Travelodge hotel, you are right.


HelenHaricot said...

agh for you. nice pic!

Allie said...

I suppose one the benefits of mobile raging is that you never have to see the adults around, ever again. Not much of comfort, I know. But it does sound vaguely appealing to me today after my neighbour peered anxiously in the window and raised her eyebrows at me this morning. This was due to a 'small outburst' here last night...