A World Book Day I'll never forget
It is World Book Day next week.
Take it from me, that reminder could be the greatest favour anyone’s done for you for the last month.
I have personal experience of forgetting this key date in the school calendar and it’s one of those moments that will haunt me until I’m old, grey and hopefully in one of those nice nursing homes with an in-house yoga teacher.
It was five years ago.
I can’t pretend hadn’t been warned: The instruction to dress up your child as a character from a book had been well publicised in the school newsletter – which everyone knows you skim read at your peril.
So even if my excuses had been worth anything to the ONLY five year old child in full school uniform on that day, I didn’t have any.
Obviously, there was the usual stuff about running a household, holding down a job and raising my (then) two kids single-handedly - while simultaneously attempting to go through a divorce without sliding into functioning alcoholism.
But not a real excuse. Not one I could console myself with.
I’d had ‘Buy Where’s Wally costume’ on my to-do list for weeks.
But sometimes that list becomes so huge and unwieldy that every time you look at it you get spots in front of your eyes and feel faint.
So the Where’s Wally costume disappeared among the blur of other stuff and only pinged into my head at 8.30am on the morning of the big day as we were actually approaching the school gates.
I still get a shiver down my spine when I relive the moment we stood next to the lollipop man and, to my surprise, were joined by Snow White, The Fantastic Mr Fox and The Hulk (though which book he featured in I don’t know).
A cold sweat gathered on my spine as I glanced down to see if the five year old yet noticed that he was surrounded by what looked like an impromptu Disney carnival.
‘Time to cross,’ I said coolly, feeling distinctly nauseous.
At which point, he gasped, grabbed my arm and shrieked, ‘MUMMMM!’ making it fairly clear that he had noticed.
The subsequent pantomime I went through to try and make amends is something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. But at least the ASDA down the road did have a costume left and the school secretary did let me back in so he could change at break time.
He didn’t win any prizes for originality – that’s what you get for being one of 12 Harry Potters.
But sometimes standing out from the crowd is over-rated anyway.