Janet Christie: Mum’s the word There comes a time to run

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I’m walking home when a car stops beside me. It’s a friend from across the bridge. “I was round the corner, thought I’d drop by for a cup of tea.”

Oh good. Oh no. This morning Youngest Child described the house as “an explosion in a laundrette”. A laundrette that judging by the scattered plates has hosted a Greek wedding. And in the kitchen are three Fender amplifiers, one blocking the fridge, another the washing machine and a third the door. Where else would Eldest Child store them?

“So have three,” I say.

“Is that still A Baked Potato?”

“Yes.”

My friend looks at the map of Scotland stuck to the fridge. She shares something from The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil. “Did you know before Devolution the English maritime border was moved up to Dundee and included several oil platforms?”

“Crazy,” says Eldest.

Youngest picks up the political chat, telling us she’d watched Prime Minister’s Question Time in school.

“I like the way they fight,” she says. “But I don’t watch TV at home,” she continues, “Because I’m locked in my room.”

“You were grounded! Not locked in. And you’re not any more.”

“And my window won’t open since she painted my room. I’m suffocating.”

Later as my friend departs I call over the bannister to her.

“What?”

“Can I live in your house?” I say. She laughs, thinks I’m joking, and leaves.

I empty and reload the dishwasher and washer, put three bins out, release Youngest Child’s window from its painty lockjaw, crash into an amp again then collapse on my bed, fantasising about running away until they’ve cleaned up. My mobile pings.

“We’re going to Madrid for a few days. Want to come so I’m not the only auld yin?” texts another friend.

Try and stop me. I wonder how long I can get away with staying. n

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