I am at work. My half day a week in an office. Young people, older bosses, a pregnant woman I see and imagine the weeks, months, years ahead. I talk to her occasionally: she spends a lot of time waiting for lifts and coming and going and leaning and puffing out her cheeks. I don’t want to tell her too much of course, so I just tell her my wife was the same. She wouldn’t know I had a child if I didn’t tell her that. The office is one of the few places I have no link to childcare. I am not a stay at home dad there.
I sit at a computer, clicking buttons, looking at newspapers, listening to the things the young people (really young, scarcely in their twenties) say to each other. It brings back memories. I don’t know what they think of the bearded, long-haired man who passes among them for a few hours a week. (Thank you to Sebastien Chabal, by the way, for making the image respectable, attractive even.) I sometimes rejoice in the lack of expectation, the lack of interest; sometimes I want to stand up and shout “I used to work on trading floors, wear suits, transact deals, shout into telephones, entertain in restaurants. I used to be someone else…”
My mobile phone rings. It’s my daughter’s school. She has fallen over and has “a small hole” in her head. I finish my work at ten times the usual speed (I’d like to know how to do that) and head for the nearby hospital. On the roads, nobody seems to understand I’m in a rush and cars loiter and arc lazily. When I arrive finally, she is sitting on her teacher’s lap, draped in a blanket as they wait to be seen. She seems dazed. I hug her and take a look at the cut. It looks as though she has been caught by a stray stud in a ruck. Her teacher tells me how loud the thump was when her head hit the floor, which is not something I really want to recap.
I take over and after a while we see the doctor, who refers us to a nurse, who glues her head back together. The hairwash holiday she will be having brings a watery smile to her lips. “I didn’t cry.” she tells me. I ask why not. “I wanted the doctor to say I was very brave.” she replies. I stroke the left side of her head. “It’s alright to cry.” I tell her.