Walking with Hunzi on a cold sunny day through the exurban space that does for our local park. Ahead of us on the footpath is a young woman in pink, pushing a pink buggy. The buggy is unoccupied. Behind her, occasionally falling over on the tarmac path and having to be picked up and dragged, a tiny child of perhaps 20 months, also dressed in pink, is screaming, presumably in terror at being repeatedly abandoned by the carer who periodically turns into a scary monster. The mother reciprocally turns from time to time to shout at her (in the vernacular) to f-ing pull herself together and stop making such a fuss.
As we pass the scene, the woman – who also has a dog with her – smiles brightly. ‘Dogs are so much easier than children!’ she tells me.
‘Are they?’ I reply coldly, calling Hunzi to heel. Cynically, he obliges. It is not hard to see where teenagers come from.
I recall another day, many years since, on holiday in the remote far west of Ireland. Driving in the mountains in a rented car, my father announces brightly that my mother will now have a driving lesson. I cry in terrified anticipation of inevitable disaster. This does not go down well. Age three, I am put out by the roadside and watch my life-support lurch erratically off into the unknown distance, the silence punctuated only by the mew of the kite.
Yesterday was Mothers’ Day. I forgot to send a card, as usual.