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Thursday, January 12, 2012

On balance, I think I prefer today's sunrise...

Springtime for Hitler
It looks a bit like the German flag has finally been raised over England, but apart from that, I like it.

I was working in Brighton yesterday, so I had the pleasure of taking Amelie to and from nursery for the first time. It was a bit like escorting a prisoner on day release, but without the time off for good behaviour. Dropping her off wasn't too much of a problem - the only difficulty I had was getting her to pause long enough to say goodbye before she ran off to play - but picking her up was a different story.

With the ever present threat of paedophiles lurking on every street corner, and statistics showing that at any given time there are upwards of ninety-three child molesters, violent abductors and kiddy-fiddlers within a ten-metre radius of where you're standing, security at the nursery is naturally tight. Getting Amelie out of there was like springing Charles Manson from a maximum security prison.

When I dropped her off, they were happy to take the girl off my hands without a fuss, but returning as a single unaccompanied man clearly put me on the danger list for the axis of evil. Having rung the doorbell outside and got no response whatsoever, I was met by another parent on her way out. I told her they weren't answering my calls, and she informed me that there's a video camera hidden in the doorbell, and they're probably studying me as we speak and deciding I fit the profile of a paedophile. Those weren't her exact words, but I knew what she meant.

Undeterred, I snuck through the door as she left, only to be confronted by another locked door with a keypad. Lisa had given me the code that morning, but I'd burnt it after reading, and committed it to my unfailing memory. So naturally by 5pm I'd forgotten it. As luck would have it, another parent arrived, refused to give me the code, and forced me to make a second daring entry attempt by piggy-backing her through the door. Not literally.

By the time I'd made it through a bolted gate, down the corridor and through another closed door to the pre-school room, I felt like I was on an episode of Prison Break. Frankly if Bin Laden had set up home there, he'd still be alive now.

Fortunately, once there, I was greeted by a happy little three-year-old who was very pleased to see me. Not Amelie, obviously, but a little boy who came running up to me, smiling, and said "I showed Amelie how to wash her hands today!". I didn't tell him that's more than I've ever done.

While my own daughter completely ignored me, he then said "This is for you..."

Drawing Your Attention... and handed me the drawing on the left. It was like being passed a note by a lifer at visiting time. Either it's a coded message he wanted me to get out to his loved ones, or it's a picture of a llama lying down. I'm not sure which. But either way, I was grateful. He was the only person who acted like he wanted me to be there.

In the end, I had to virtually drag Amelie out of there by her wrists. There was a quiet beeping as we left, which I think was the sound of the staff phoning social services. Unfortunately she appears to have brought something home with her. She was up in the night, barking like a seal and telling us her throat hurts. So we need to keep that quiet. If they discover she's walked out with a cough, they might try to charge us extra.