Once upon a time, I caught my husband laughing at his own joke and, when I questioned him about it, he said he was thinking of wearing a fez to breakfast. This became the centrepiece of a post called “A Husband By Any Other Name” and subsequently resulted in my mother making my husband his very own fez, which he sometimes wears to breakfast. So that worked out nicely for everyone.
So it was only natural that my mother’s next project, after reading my post “What a W***er“, was to find me a black wool beret – you know, the type to be worn by other Creative Types, such as Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and, er, Frank Spencer.
After much searching, she finally found and purchased one last Sunday while we were all out at a countryside market. I immediately put it on and came over all writerly.
“Hussshhhh,” I said to my husband when he tried to explain to me how he’d arranged with my mother to meet us a particular place in half an hour’s time. “My mind is a maelstrom of metaphor and I’m going to start onomatopoeia-ing any moment now. Please don’t bother me with your jibber jabber.”
Next thing I knew, I found myself totally lost in the markets, looking for my mummy, with my fly completely undone and my beret askew. True story.
I thought that might have been the end of it. But then the very next day, my children had a series of wardrobe disasters that I can only ascribe to the Beret Effect.
I accidentally gave Tiddles McGee a pair of his brother’s underpants to wear, which (along with other things) swum loosely around in his trousers.
The Pixie, who had dressed herself in the morning, wore her skorts back to front all day, resulting in a hospital gown effect where the skirt bit looked as if it could flap open at any moment and reveal her naked bum.
And Mr Justice confessed he’d put his school jacket on upside down and got himself “all confused” because his pockets weren’t where he expected them to be.
Yes, by accepting and wearing that beret, I had definitely turned my children into Writer’s Children.
Anyway, on our way out of the school that afternoon, I saw the Mild-Mannered Lawyer’s son in the distance, wandering around the school grounds by himself. My first reaction was pure joy because I finally remembered why I’d walked around all weekend with the words “Green Stockings” written on the back of my hand (I was supposed to give the MML a pair for an Incredible Hulk costume, of course!). My second reaction, however, was concern.
The children and I followed him into the school office where we found him reporting his mother to the staff as Missing In Action. I boldly intervened.
“Excuse me, [Master MML] but isn’t today a Monday?” I interrupted. “Doesn’t your mum work on a Monday? Aren’t you supposed to be at afterschool care?”
Master MML looked at me with some confusion. And no, I wasn’t wearing my beret at the time.
A quick call to his mother from my mobile established that Master MML indeed should have been going to afterschool care and the school office allowed me to take him to the appropriate meeting point, despite my strangely dressed children and General Writerly Air.
Apparently the MML later made a follow-up phone call to the school to complain about her five year old son being left to wander aimlessly around the school. And though she didn’t mention it to me, I expect she added the words “especially in the company of Writers”. Honestly, I don’t blame her. If I were her, I wouldn’t want my child to fall prey to the Beret Effect, especially if green stockings were potentially involved.
I’d detail more but right now I’ve got to go sit at a streetside cafe with my beret on and gaze meaningfully into the middle distance… with my tshirt inside out and my shoes on the wrong feet, no doubt.