Sunday, June 14, 2009

An Outing That Shouldn't Have Been

I am starting to baulk at taking the children out in public. We’ve gone from attempting a pleasant day at the mall/park/anywhere to just keeping them in our egg-carton sound-proofed lounge. The sound-proofing doesn’t work. We can clearly hear the neighbours dialing Social Services at least three times a day.

But staying at home in winter turns Neen into Sylvia Plath, and me into Vincent Van Gogh, so, rather than go for the gas oven/pistol in the wheatfield options, we try and do something that five completely different personalities will enjoy. At the same time.

Today we tried to do the Cape Town Book Fair. Touted in the magazines as being child-friendly (that means- expensive merchandise aimed at placing the parents in the delightful position of feeling extorted), we took the two hours it takes to get ready, and headed out. Clearly, the advertising was effective- I’ve never seen so many children outside of a remake of Bugsy Malone. The gangster analogy is not an accident.

Something about certain kinds of parents- they desperately want their children to get into books instead of, say TIK (methamphetamines), or camel porn. The children seemed to be indulging them- leading the bending servants around, either carelessly nodding assent at the next treat, or denying the parent the chance to spoil them once more.

I can be critical in this way, because we were the parents from hell. James has a cough which could send him to one of those tuberculosis ‘hospitals’, Jonah’s eyes have spontaneously swelled up to look like giant red plums, and Hannah is, well, off her head.

In between the Very Hungry Caterpillar, a screaming fit about nothing, and seeing the ‘real’ spiderman’ (some unfortunate dude in a costume with, it appeared, an acute priapism. Google it. Or don’t), we managed to avoid doing anything of any interest to an adult.

I worked in the book trade for twelve years, so I spent most of the morning avoiding ex-colleagues and associates- publishers and so on, not wanting them to see the whirlwind of destruction that is my family. Felt like we were taking the Addams family out, rather than the flaming Waltons.

This love for literature stuff is hard to inculcate. So. If you were one of the people who, having paid good money to have a publishing experience, only to have it ruined by deranged children, I apologise.


  1. My darling Damien loves books! I've always been able to take him to a bookstore and spend some time there browsing and being quiet. And with him thats a miracle.


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