It’s Monday and my daughter is in a bad mood. My wife was up early and did the pink-cup-with-cats-on-it and the chocolate-cereal-in-a-bowl. I arrive downstairs and say hello and then fetch the pink-brush-with-fairies-on-it. I brush my daughter’s hair as gently as I can.
“Don’t you think her white dress looks lovely?” says my wife from the other side of the room.
“Yes”, I say “Very pretty”.
“No, don’t talk about me” says my daughter grumpily, ramming her finger up her nose.
“Why not?” asks my wife, smiling gently.
“Now you’re laughing at me” she says.
My wife is about to say something. I say “No we’re not”, and stroke my daughter's hair, since I’m sitting closer.
We both watch her silently. It reminds me of the other times she has shown signs of growing up; adult traits appearing suddenly like shoots. I think you have to nurture these. It is easy to miss them as life rumbles past. If you trample on them each re-growth is more difficult. One moment you’re changing a nappy, the next they’re buying you a drink. It all happens more quickly than you’re prepared for.
I’m in a bad mood too, I realize, as I make my way through London traffic like a wave through mud. Pedestrians try to throw themselves under my wheels, roads are mysteriously closed off, inside other vehicles faces are clenched and set. I lose my temper with a minicab which veers into my lane and a schoolboy who is walking along the middle of the road, hooting grumpily and at length. In the end I drop my daughter off at nursery and my wife at the tube station.
Later I am at home, typing and listening to the radio. The Daily Service is on. It’s somehow become my favourite programme. I don’t really listen much to the spoken parts, I have to admit; but the music speaks calmly and poignantly. I may choose to ignore the message but I can’t resist the beauty of the telling.