What kind of mad fool would get home from a long day out at 9.00pm on a Sunday, feed the animals, sort the kids stuff out for school tomorrow, then sit down to start writing a blog? That'll be me then.
I really don't have anything much to say that's coherent - the kids and I have been back to the homelands of Essex, visiting family, so have spent several hours in the car. Rather than be inflicted to my daughter's taste in music again on the way home, we came up with a workaround whereby she listened to some horrifically morose teen stuff on her headphones, son played on the Switch in the back seat, and I listened to an audiobook. Only today's audiobook was David Jackson's 'Don't Make a Sound'. Here are some of the reviews I read a few hours after I started playing it in the car to my teenagers:
Fast-paced and darkly disturbing”, “Incredibly chilling”, “A mind-blowing, head-rattling, whirlwind of a thriller”, “Hardly breathed the whole way through”, “A beautifully wrought thriller that had the kid in me cowering beneath the bed covers” “Dark and disturbing”.
It started getting pretty odd midway through the first chapter, and it got darker and darker from there on in. Son and I exchanged a few looks in the rear view mirror, but he gave me the thumbs up, so I let it play. We decided to stop for snack break just as the the narrative reached the bit where the 2nd child was being snatched by the deranged psycho, which was extraordinarily serendipitous as daughter had just removed her headphones and so, of course, she also started listening. So now I've two teenagers listening to a thriller about child abduction and I've got absolutely nowhere to go with it as a parent. Nowhere at all. Apart from Clackett Lane Services. So that's where I went.
Thankfully the lure of the WH Smith was strong, so they stocked up on snacks and seemed suitably distracted enough by their haul to be returned to the car. I hoped that they would have moved on, mentally, by the time we got back to the car, but no sooner had the car doors shut and the rustle of wrappers begun then they demanded I put the book back on, so they could listen to more. So now, not only have I got the ethical conundrum of playing a thriller to two impressionable teens, I've now also got the sound effects of chomping in my ears and the increasingly unpleasant aroma of 'otherpeoplesfood' to contend with.
I wasn't hungry, but child 1 had a packet of Quavers and Child 2 had a strawberry Yazoo. Take a second to invoke the aromas of each of those items - both overly flavoured and highly pungent. Imagine then, the two combined. Fake cheese and fake strawberry flavours combined to create the sensory horror of a very, very out of date gone-off strawberry yoghurt. It was more than I could ever have imagined, and nothing I ever want to repeat.
Opening the window on the M25 is out of the question, so I whacked the air con on to move the air around. So then, on top of all the other horrific sensory overloads I'm experiencing, it's now as cold as a crypt. Fitting, perhaps, in terms of the narrative, but fucking freezing nonetheless. But I'm now in a full-on game of parenting chicken with a 13 and a 15 year old and there's no way on this earth that I'm going to be the one wimping out.
Eventually, around Gatwick, the smell dissipates and I can turn the aircon off. The plotline has moved on to the police investigation and the distraught parents, so we're all fairly comfortable again. We reach the end of chapter and we all know the plot is going to be taking us back to the torture room imminently. In a flash of inspired genius, I take the opportunity to fake yawn and say "good book, but it's making me a bit sleepy, shall we listen to something else?" To which both teens shout "yes!" far too quickly, and before you know it, Taylor Swift is filling the car and we're all back in the room. The safe room, the one without the child-snatching psychopath.
So we get home, upbeat and twinkly (I am feigning twinkly in a way that only a mother can after enduring 30 minutes of Taylor Swift), the kids wander off to their usual evening activities and I sit down to write a blog.
Which I have now done, which means I can now sneak off upstairs to bed, with a set of headphones, to listen to the next few chapters...