A day in the life

Arnold Schwarzenegger is pointing at me shouting in that strange Austro-Californian accent of his “Who’s that in the girly car?” A crowd gathers behind him, echoing, “Girly car, girly car”. It’s really rather menacing. I get out my Volkswagen only to find myself back in my primary school playground. The crowd has disappeared, but Schwarzenegger is now my face chanting “Girly man, Girly man. Girly man in a girly car.” George W. Bush is at his side in a ghastly recreation of a painful childhood memory. I’m five years old, Schwarzenegger’s head is on the body of the sneering tall thin boy and George W. is the short chubby sidekick. I’m trapped in the corner by these two bullies. George W. is jabbing me and screaming, “look at his yellow teeth, he’s no patriot. It’s disgusting. He shouldn’t be here at all”. I catch a glimpse of Condoleezza Rice joining her boys, she looks repulsed and is singing, “Oh, you’ve got yellow teeth, oh you’ve got rotting teeth, oh you’ve got revolting teeth.” Oh my God, it’s not Condoleezza. It’s Ros. The school bell rings. It’s getting louder and louder…another one goes off…

6.15am Pole-axed in bed, alarm clocks going off on either side. (What kind of dopey state must I have been last night to set both for exactly the same time?) Overcome with indecision. Which one do I get first? That was some nightmare; where did that come from? Got to kill the alarm. Got to kill both of them.

6.18am Wish bloody dog would stop licking itself. Especially in our bedroom.

6.22am Where’s Wife? Oh yes, Chicago. Got to get up. Fuck, it’s cold. Why oh why did I stay up so late again last night? It’s those bastards at HBO scheduling ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ in the early hours. Why can’t I just grow up and not watch it? Got to get up. Got to check Son’s up. Why isn’t Wife here? Girls much better at this kind of thing.

6.43am Son refers to me as Dood. Not Dewd (as back home) nor Dude (as spelt) but Dood. Does this make my father Grand Dood? Everyone here is ‘Dood’ or ‘You Guy’. Wonder how long before Wife calls me Dood.

6.59am Sixty-second countdown to departure

7.00am Check: Two children, one fed; one packed school bag; one red lurex wrestling kit (Thursday. Match day); one Yorkshire Terrier (clean) and one driver (me) in car. Remember to press remote to open garage door. One of these days bound to reverse out in haste leaving splintered garage door all over the place.

7.01am Did I turn that hob off?

7.02am Hob now off. En route to train station.

7.08am Arrive at Noroton Heights station. Marvel, as do every day, how it always takes exactly six minutes.

7.11am Other cars arrive at station. Same time, same order every morning. Darien’s own little re-enactment of Groundhog Day. Wonder if I’m brave enough to leave three minutes later tomorrow. Know I’m not.

7.13am Son, plugged into new personalized iPod, gets out of car in preparation for the 7.16am to Greens Farm. (Hide disappointment that Son erased carefully chosen iPod selection for something ‘cooler’.) Daughter (still in slippers and dressing gown), dog and myself head back home.

7.59am Sixty-second countdown to departure.

8.00am Check: One child, fed; one packed school bag (containing snack lovingly prepared by Dad); snow boots and helmet; one Yorkshire Terrier (still clean); one driver (me) and Starbucks card in the car.

8.04am Can there still be four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire? Were there ever?

8.14am Enter Pear Tree Point School drop-off conveyor system. Teacher already standing outside in sub-Artic temperatures to help Daughter out of car. Like this system. Don’t have to fight for parking space. Don’t even have to get out of car. Better than London’s free-for all. (Reminisce about uptight Chelsea mothers pitted against other in their daily displays of school car park rage.)

8.16am Blonde Connecticut Mom in silver Volvo XC-90 waves at me. Have no idea who she is. Impossible to know. Everyone, including me, in silver XC-90’s. All with darkened glass. Everyone, excluding me, blonde. Maybe baldness looks blonde through darkened glass. Maybe a case of mistaken identity. Tentatively wave back. Decide thereafter to wave at every passing silver XC-90.

8.18am Feel like the Queen.

8.23am Children in school, Dog in car, Dad in Starbucks.

8.24am Wife always mocks Starbucks card. Wife doesn’t see point of it. Wife can’t see it’s cool. Wife can’t see benefit of paying for coffee weeks in advance. Wife doesn’t understand. Charles, the friendly African-American (a Darien minority. Like husbands on school run), recognizes me and punches in the usual. Iced Grande Latte. Feel contrary this morning. Ask for a Grande Cappuccino. Charles crestfallen. Feels good to hand over card. Hope that good-looking girl behind me in queue notices. She’d be impressed. She’d understand.

8.29am Slow in here. At this pace Grande Cappuccino will soon be Iced Grande Cappuccino.

8.32am Back in car. Just in time to hear Kathleen Marple complete news bulletin with her languidly sexy “Nineny five poin nine, The Fox”.

8.33am Wonder what Kathleen Marple looks like.

8.34am Become aware that traveling at great speed. Twenty-eight miles an hour. Slow down. Wow, that was scary.

8.35am … Where was I? Oh yes… Kathleen Marple.

8.36am Been up nearly two and a half hours. One hundred and forty-one long minutes. Only 8.35am. Done for.

8.43am Get back home. Consider going to bed. Been a long day.

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