Janet Christie: Mum’s the Word

I’m just in from work and the wolves are circling while I open the packets and slam the tea onto plates, snapping about the dirty dishes littering every surface.

“Oooooh. Grumpy,” says someone, ill- advisedly.

“Zip it. I’ve been at work all day and I don’t need to come home to this … disgrace.”

Middle Child seizes his moment. “I’ve been at work all day too. So tired. Yawn.”

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The cheek of him. One day’s work experience in John Lewis and he’s Alan Sugar.

I’d been staying away from the shop for fear of embarrassing him, but next day I visit. Hiding behind the cleaning products, I watch as he and a pal label items. I approach.

“Mum! I was just wishing my mum was here.” (Really?) “It’s great. I had a fried breakfast, then two pizzas and chips for lunch, and jelly in my next break. And you get to chat to all the customers. Come and I’ll introduce you to my boss (nicest woman I’ve ever met!), give you a tour. This is the kitchen department, look at these cool spatulas! And here are the Hoovers. This woman asked me to show her them then asked why they all suck up dust, so I said, because that’s what a vacuum’s for, then she walked out!”

“Don’t worry. Large sections of the public have mental health problems.”

“Yeah. People are mental. But that’s ok. I like to chat to them.”

You don’t say.