Saturday, 6 November 2010

Josh Shows A Lack Of Appreciation For Birdsong, And Expensive New Shoes.

God, I've got a terrible hangover. Why on earth did I decide to drink red wine instead of gin last night? I really don't think anyone noticed, so it's not as if I earned any Brownie points for fitting in with the rest of the women at the Party bonfire.

Unlike bloody Josh, who fitted in all too well, but then couldn't get his head out of the bucket, again. He's much too old - and his head's far too big - to still be trying to win at apple bobbing, but he's so ridiculously competitive. Even when he's competing against a field of eight year olds.

Now he's blaming me for "making him misjudge the angle of entry" as he says that he gets anxious when I watch him. Then he explains that this is why he always "forgot" to tell me when Sports Day was taking place.

"Why would you do that?" I ask. It's the first I've heard of it, and I am deeply wounded. "I am your mother, Joshua."

"Performance anxiety," he says. "The last time I let you come to Sports Day, I dropped the egg, fell over my own feet in the three-legged race and came first by accident in the slow cycling race."

Honestly, we really should have sent the kids to a far less progressive school. I'm sure the whole "competition is too traumatic" thing has only made them worse.

Josh used to get so angry that the headmaster wouldn't even apply selection to the football team. He said it made them a laughing stock throughout the entire inter-school league. Not that Josh's anger is a thing of the past - he's in a foul mood this morning too, because his hangover is even worse than mine.

It seems that drinking has also become a competitive sport, though no-one in their right mind - other than Josh - would ever try and take on Pete Carew. That man can still drink a pint while lying flat out underneath a bar stool. Without spilling a drop. His status within the local Party is legendary as a result.

Josh doesn't accept that he has a hangover, though - but claims instead that he is sleep-deprived, even though I'm the one who gets woken up early. By Connie, who comes barging in at 9:30am yelling, "Mum!"

Max is still asleep beside me - free of a hangover - so why is Connie picking on me?

"Ouch," I say, pulling the pillow over my head. "Shush. Head hurts."

"You've got to do something about bloody, bloody Josh, Mum. Now!"

"What? Con, you've only been home since last night and Josh is probably still out cold, so I really don't see what's so urgent."

"My new shoes," she says. "They're probably ruined. I come home for the weekend and this happens on the first bloody night."

What is she talking about? I sit up in bed, decide fast moves are a very bad idea and lie down again. Slowly.

"Connie, I have a terrible hangover and I feel like death, so just tell me. What have your new shoes got to do with Josh?"

"They're in the tree outside his bedroom," she says. "Come and look."

She insists Max and I follow her downstairs and out into the garden, where we stand and stare up in disbelief at Connie's new shoes, which really are in the tree. Still in their box, though this doesn't seem to make Connie feel any better.

So it's back inside and straight up the stairs to Josh's room - which smells of teenage boy and far too much beer the night before. Now I feel sick as well as having the headache from hell.

"Josh," I say, shaking him. "Josh! Wake up! Why are Connie's new shoes in the tree?"

"I threw the box out there about four o'clock this morning," says Josh. "Now go away and let me get back to sleep. I'm tired."

"Why?" say Connie, Max and I, simultaneously. Josh opens one eye, glares at all of us, then sighs as if the answer should be obvious.

"Because the bloody birds were singing too loud, and the shoebox was the first thing that came to hand," says Josh. "Connie shouldn't have left it in my room."

"I'll get dressed and go and get the ladder," says Max. "Good morning, one and all." There is a definite tone about the way he says this. It sounds like resignation.

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