It’s nice, all this weather. Driving through Hyde Park I was hit by the heat haze, and the sparks of sunlight coming off the Serpentine reminded me of midsummer beaches. We were on our way to the Orangery – a café in the middle of Kensington Gardens which is a candidate for the grandest teashop in the country. It’s a little known spot and a favourite destination for West London mums, passed on by word of mouth in hushed tones down the generations. To enter is to enter a pushchair showroom. I was meeting a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while and who now has a two year old and a newborn and a nanny. She had arranged to meet another friend with a young daughter and we all sat down and ordered tea and flapjacks. I had the vague sensation that I was at the wrong table, but I always do when I’m out on trips like this. We chatted. The mum referred to me as “Mr Mom” and laughed, which might have been ironic, or perhaps not. The conversation got round to children. She wanted four and quickly. “So sad just to have two” she said. I smiled indulgently, thinking of our poor dysfunctional family. Were people staring at my daughter and me? “Call the social services. The police. Anyone.” Invariably things like this come to the fore when I’m in groups of mums. It’s never a particularly easy experience. Comments emerge like teabags shaken out of a teapot - eventually and in messy clumps. But then why should it be any different? I didn’t spend time with groups of women before, so why should things have changed now?
We said we really must meet up again, sooner next time. I swung my daughter onto my shoulders and headed in the direction of the car park. I don’t suppose we will. She doesn’t need me for any reason and I can’t say I’d get much out of it either. “Look daddy, I’m reaching out but I can’t touch the sky” said my daughter and I knew what she meant.