I haven’t had a running away day in a long, long time.
It’s not really that I’ve got anything to run away from, you understand? I am not being kept in domestic servitude, tied to the oven by my apron strings while my man lounges about staring into space and shouting about how long it’s taking me to cook his dinner. I actually like my children these days (there have been moments, oh yes, there have been moments). I no longer feel the need to escape at every given opportunity. I am lucky that the days of microscopically wiping bottoms, or chiselling vomit from the light fittings is a thing of the past.
But despite this, it is my belief that every now and again you still need a running away day.
A day where if you feel like you really want to eat chocolate tart for breakfast you can do it without starting negotiations with small people that make UN Peace Keeping forces look like rank amateurs.
A day when if you decide that actually you do want to nurse this cup of coffee over an hour and a half, thus allowing yourself the gratuitous pleasure of staring at other people and eavesdropping on their conversations, you can, without being rudely interrupted by the need to adjudicate an argument the size of world war three over who has the biggest chocolate muffin etc.
A day where if you want to go into an expensive looking shop and fondle handbags you can’t afford, you won’t be trailed by three small children shouting: ‘Have you seen the price of this handbag mama? You could buy four hundred goats for African villagers at that price!’ which does dampen your enthusiasm slightly, and mean that you are generally trailed about the shop like a criminal by excessively anxious sales people.
A day when you can stop being mama, or wife of, or teacher of, and just be yourself.
On Saturday I sloped off to the Warwick Arts Centre for the entire day.
They were doing three Ayckbourn plays over the course of the day. Two short plays called ‘Farcicals’ in the morning, shown back to back as one item, then ‘Time of My Life’ as the matinee, and ‘Arrivals and Departures’ as the evening performance – all staged by the same company.
Andrea was joining me later in the day, for the last two plays (Andrea is allowed to accompany me on my running away days. She demands nothing, refuses to let me wipe her bottom, and never argues about cake), but I had until two o’clock in the afternoon entirely to myself.
It was marvellous.
Readers – I did absolutely nothing of interest at all. Heaven.
I got there early and browsed the book shop for nearly an hour with no interruptions at all.
I saw Farcicals. It was very, very silly and involved excessive use of the word Kidderminster, which in itself is intrinsically funny.
I took myself off to lunch. I eschewed the cafe, due to the fact that the UK finals of the university brass band challenge was also taking place in the building and there was an air of pent up anxiety, burnt cheese and tuba to contend with that didn’t sit well with me.
I ate all the things whilst drinking too much coffee and reading my book, uninterrupted for a whole hour and a half.
I went back to the book shop. I bought books.
Andrea arrived and we went to see ‘Time of My Life’, which was beautifully acted, utterly Ayckbourn to the last detail and as sad as it was funny.
We wandered to the cafe, where there was much less flugelhorn, although the aroma of burning cheese lingered. We ate vast quantities of cake, washed down with lakes of coffee and discussed the world and its wife.
Then we went to see ‘Arrivals and Departures’, which is a relatively new play. I am not always sure about his newer output, and the way it started left me rather downcast, but it actually turned out to be the strongest, and certainly most poignant of all three plays.
We sat afterwards, chatting until the queues for the car park had died down, parted ways, and then I drove home listening to Sara Cox and the Sound of the Eighties on the radio as a bit of light relief.
Despite the fact that the entire day was accompanied by a splitting headache which I cannot seem to shake off, I thoroughly enjoyed just being me for the day. It seemed like an illicit pleasure, snatched from under the noses of the unwary.