When Hello Magazine comes calling, we'll be ready...
To be honest, we're more Hello Kitty than Hello, but for what it's worth, that's the Gardner family relaxing together around a stylish leather & corduroy chaise longue. It's not ours, obviously. Although we are responsible for the broken glass bottle and numerous cookie crumbs which are just out of shot. In reality, that's a room at the Hilton hotel at Gatwick Airport. Which isn't ours either.
Yes, while other people are heading to Gatwick for a holiday in the sun, we went up there yesterday evening to visit my sister, who's currently employed nearby. I think she's working on the check-in desk at the south terminal. As it happens, we were lucky to get there at all, as yesterday was a day of minor disasters, and I spent most of it wondering if I'd crossed a gypsy whilst breaking thirteen mirrors under a ladder.
To be honest, I knew it was going to go badly from the moment that Amelie turned to me at lunchtime and said "I think today's our lucky day!". It all started from there really. I'd just finished work, and was walking along Eastern Road with Amelie and Toby, trying to persuade Amelie not to pick up the dead chick she'd just found under a tree, when we passed Chris Difford of Squeeze getting out of an Audi near Lidl. He's clearly a big fan of the Germans.
Naturally I had to explain to Amelie who the man was, but having done so, she exclaimed "Wow! I think today's our lucky day! First we found a chick, and now we've seen a famous person! Mummy's not going to believe it when we tell her!"
As it happens, Lisa had other things on her mind. We'd just delivered her to the Sussex Eye Hospital, where she'd been referred by her optician for slightly raised pressures. Her Mum has glaucoma, so they wanted her checked out. And it gave her the chance to act as a mystery shopper for my colleagues.
So I took the kids to Lidl, then the park, before returning home to check out Lisa's new Kindle Fire, which she'd just received for her birthday. And which won't work. At all. Other than as a paperweight. I spent an enjoyable hour going through Amazon's helpdesk articles, before confirming that one of the chips is definitely faulty and it will need to go back.
At which point, Lisa got home. She'd been diagnosed with ocular hypertension and told that she'll definitely have glaucoma within ten years. Which is not the kind of news you want on a Wednesday afternoon. We'll need to get the Kindle working pretty quickly, as she won't be able to see it in a decade. She's been given travoprost drops, in case Red Riding Hood comes round and accuses her of having big eyes, and told to go back in three months.
Unfortunately, that's only the half of it. The other half is that she spent the afternoon being a blinking nuisance to one of my colleagues by refusing to keep her eyes open for the OCT scan. Not only were they forced to do it three times, but they had to get a healthcare assistant to hold up her eyelids. And even then, they couldn't do it. To be honest, I should have seen this coming (through my wide-open unblinking eyes). I could wallpaper St Paul's Cathedral with photos of Lisa with her eyes closed. The fact is, they're rarely open. I think this is why she's always getting lost. She claims she doesn't know she's blinking, but in reality it's like she's permanently looking through a zoetrope.
So having ruined my colleague's day and brought shame upon my department, Lisa returned home, where I told her about her faulty kindle, waited for her to finish swearing, and then set off for Gatwick twenty minutes late.
Fortunately the journey went well. For about a minute. A mile from home, we encountered a fire at the top of Elm Grove, got stuck behind two ambulances and a fire engine, and were forced to make a diversion... right into a major traffic jam. It was shortly after that that my sat-nav died, taking with it all our directions, hopes and optimistic dreams of a nice evening with my sister.
Luckily I have the in-built navigational skills of a homing pigeon. Unfortunately we weren't going home. But despite that, I made it into darkest Crawley, and using my photographic memory of the two seconds I'd spent looking at a map the day before, combined with a bit of common sense and a lot of blind luck, we somehow stumbled across Big Sis's place of work, and welcomed her into the back of our car...
... where Amelie had just spilt a load of apple juice. I had to persuade my sister to sit on a paper bag for the duration of the journey back to her hotel. I'm hoping they do her laundry for free, as it was surprisingly ineffective.
Once at Sis's hotel, Amelie made herself at home...
... while Toby did some plane-spotting through the window...
He then knocked over one of those bottles, and sent broken glass flying across the room on a tidal wave of water.
I was tempted to go home at that point, but Lisa informed me that I'd have to take the children with me, so I decided there was safety in numbers, and opted to stay. It was a decision I mostly regretted.
On the plus side, the Garden Restaurant at the Hilton served us some very nice food...
On the downside, they had to supply us with crayons as a form of art therapy to help us through the trauma of Toby's behaviour. I'm telling you now, if you've never crawled across the floor of a hotel restaurant, picking up dozens of baked beans and sausages, whilst apologising to the diners who have just had forks thrown at them, then you clearly haven't lived. It's just a shame those people couldn't hear my apologies over the sound of Toby screaming. Not that he was unhappy. To be honest, he quite enjoyed wrecking the restaurant. But then he wasn't the one paying.
Still, it was nice to see Big Sis. We couldn't actually talk to her, as we had our hands full with the kids, but she certainly looked well from across the table. Although I spent most of the evening under it. To be honest, I thought we'd already put our friend 'C' off the idea of having children on Sunday, but by the time the desserts came last night, I think Sis was booking a sterilisation on her iPhone. Let's face it, if the Gardners carry on socialising, the human race will be extinct within a generation.