I live within walking distance of my children’s school, a beautiful seven-minute stroll through a forest of ivy-clad oak trees, ferns, ladybirds, and a stream. But before you stab me in the face with your car keys, let me tell you what it’s really like.
First, there’s the seven-minute thing. 'Seven minutes' invites complacency. If you’re told that a journey will take you seven minutes, you think, “Oh, I’ll be there in no time.” So you fuck about. Seven minutes is not like an hour, which you take seriously, which you allow time for. If you live within a seven-minute-walk of your children’s school, you either need to be a) Allyson Lewis, whose bestseller ‘The Seven Minute Difference’ shows you how to break your actions into seven-minute micro-actions (but who, sadly, looks like a reptile) or you need b) an Atomic Clock that loses less than one second every BILLION years and also shouts at you. Now I don’t have an Atomic Clock. I have a collection of time-keeping devices that are so wholly evil that they lose a minute every day, probably every minute. I may as well use an hourglass.
By the time I have reached the stream in the forest, I am usually so late that to get me to the school on time would require the intervention of a Time Lord. So I run. By the time I reach the road that leads to the school, my core body temperature is about 105 degrees and I require hospitalisation. But with hospital not being an option, I persevere onwards towards The School Gate.
Now you’d think I’d be relieved to see The School Gate. You’d think I’d see it as the last lap, the homeward stretch. But I don’t. Because The School Gate was designed by a bastard. It is narrower than you can ever imagine, with three treacherous open-sided steps. Worse, there is always a stampede of people coming towards you from the opposite direction, so much so that you wonder if somebody has seen an actual lion. It takes me at least two more minutes to safely negotiate it, during which time I see my two children, outside their classrooms, wearing forlorn disappointed expressions. One of them, my littlest one, my baby boy, is being sheltered by his teacher, and is mouthing the words “Mami forgetted me”, over and over.
Well babies, I didn’t forget you. I love you. I really do. It’s just that, you know, other people get to drive their kids to school. They don’t have to dodge ladybirds, and oak trees, or perform seven-minute micro-actions on a daily basis, or EVER run. They are lucky bastards. If they only knew.