Sunday, 17 June 2012

Week 41- pouring rain, vertical escalators and misogynists

Standing at the top of a flight of stairs at a deserted Preston Park station in the pouring rain, I think, some places were designed by couples. Or misogynists.

There's literally no way to get out of the station with a pram on your own.

So I went back onto the platform to ring the buzzer on the information stand.

After about five minutes...


'Hi. I'm at Preston Park station and there doesn't seem to be anyway to get out with a buggy.'


'Preston park.'


'It's near Brighton.'

'Right. I don't know that station. We're based in London.'

'What should I do?'

'Is there a member of staff there?'

'No it's an unmanned station. Otherwise I would have asked them what to do.'

'Right. I'd ask a member of the public then.'

'There's no-one here. And I've got a pram. And it's pissing it down. ' (Wish I'd just said raining.)

'Well I don't know what to suggest then.'


'Have a good day.'

Under my breath. 'Piss taker.' (I didn't mind swearing so much that time.)

So I'm stuck.

I've already had to deal with commuters holding onto the handle of Nancy's pram to steady themselves on the moving train. Which felt a bit weird when she's in it.

And when I did take her out, no-one sitting down would make eye contact for fear of having to give up their place.

Luckily, having Nancy has given me a new found resilience to embarrassment, and I absolutely don't mind asking the suited man reading the Daily Mail if he'd move so I could sit down with my baby.

Even if I have to ask three times as he pretends I'm talking to someone else.

But this is different. There is no one to bother.

After about 15 minutes of continuous rain, when the fake fur coat I'm wearing has started to resemble a teddy bear thats tied to the front grill of a lorry, and my fringe is caked to my forehead like Mary Bryne's from X Factor, I eventually hear people walking through the underpass.

'Excuse me! EXCUSE ME!'

'Fuck you!'

Bit uncalled for, but karma, I guess, for muttering 'piss taker' to the train man.

Then a lad of about 15 pops his head round the bottom of the stairs.

'Oh sorry, I thought you were someone else.'

He puts down his can of Special Brew and leaps up the stairs two at a time, and helps me lift the pram to the bottom.

'Sorry about that, you sounded like one of my teachers.'

And he picks up his can and jogs on to catch up with his mates.

And I think, I don't want to spend Nancy's early years relying on the kindness of pissed teenagers. I want to be independent with her. I want to feel confident that we can leave the house and get to where we're going without feeling vulnerable.

Going across London has to be planned with the precision of a military operation, unless you want to balance a pram on vertical escalators.

Everyday little challenges like this crop up. And I wonder why I haven't seen them before. Probably because it wasn't relevant. But as Nancy gets older and we become completely mobile, I'm going to make myself remember them. And remember to ask other mums with little kids if they're ok, or need a hand.

Cos it turns out its better to be a nosy busy body, that leave someone stuck at the top of an impossible flight of stairs.

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