40

I walked the kids to school.  Eleanor was angry with me and ran ahead.  She walked to school by herself then.  When I got to the top of the steps that go down to the west end of Herald Street I could see her down by the traffic lights where  you cross to go up the other side of the valley to Berhampore School.  When she was across the road she looked back to see if we were there, and must have seen us back on the steps; Rosamund holding my hand telling me something I have now forgotten.

When Rosamund and I went across that same crossing and started up the hill to school she stopped to pull off the delicate scarlet and purple flower heads of a fuchsia that was growing wild, and a girl from her class came out of a gate by the footpath.  She was an Asian girl who I don’t know and as we all walked across the school field she talked with Rosamund about Santa Claus, and Elves, because Rosamund had just left her letter for Santa in our letter box.  Which was actually why Eleanor was mad with me because she said the postman came and took the letters and then sent them to Santa and I had said – the day before – that Elves did that job, and when Eleanor had persisted I had told her to shut up.  Now that I think about it she was right to be angry with me, and I shouldn’t have told her to shut up.

I find it sort of lovely that it is possible for small children to believe in such a wonderfully, strange thing and get very grumpy with anyone who thinks it is their job to tell children Santa is not true.  On the hand: what a load of total nonsense.  I’ve never met a nice person who thinks you should tell small children Santa doesn’t exist.  One day I hope someone pops down the chimney of their soul and delivers them the gift of fantasy, and make believe.  After all, some people believe in Original Sin, and some in laissez faire economics.

When I got home after dropping off Rosamund I started to wash the grime off the house.  Washing the sooty grimy dust from under the lees of the window sills, and up under the eaves of the veranda, was satisfying and boring work.  I listened to a podcast about Harriet Martineau who is another person I had never heard of.  She seems to have been, among many things, a person with very strong views about women, some of which you could say were feminist and some of which you couldn’t, because people don’t fit into ideological boxes and are just messy, pure and hypocritical.

After I had left Rosamund at school Eleanor had come and hugged me and told me off for being mean.  I reflected later in the day that this is not what I thought being an adult was like when I was a teenager: folding the washing, cleaning the house with a hose and brush, saying sorry to your daughter, making believe about Santa Claus.

There are 40 days until I should go back to work.