Making It Through The Wilderness.
DAWN O'PORTER : 01 NOVEMBER 2011
I believe that when you have animals you should do your best to keep them with you at all times. This is why, whenever possible, Lilu (cat) and Potato (dog) come with me on my holidays. Our last trip was to Guernsey, we went there on the ferry.
The ferry takes around two and a half hours from Weymouth to Guernsey. During which time Potato and Lilu sleep in the car, and I sit in the cabin either feeling sick or sleeping. This time, I opted for sleeping.
So there I was on a relatively empty boat sitting on a chair, which was at a table, where none of the other chairs (4) were taken. I thought it fair to sit at the empty table and have a little sleep. Apparently, it was not at all fair.
I became aware of a strong presence surrounding me. Even with my eyes closed I knew I was in trouble. When I opened them my senses couldn’t have been more right. I was faced with none other than ANGRY FAMILY.
ANGRY FAMILY is the collective name for any family that fits the following description – one dad, one mum and a minimum of two children. Most of mum’s clothes are from the catalogues you find in the back of newspapers with the exception of the occasional item from Next which she gets when she is treating herself. She often carries her handbag in a plastic bag to hide the fact that it is a hand bag so she doesn’t get mugged, even though she has never ever been mugged, or attacked by a stranger in any way.
Mum doesn’t stop talking but she doesn’t talk to anyone but Angry Dad or the Angry Children. The Angry Children are whiney, usually in a mood and being vocal about either being hungry, wanting to go home, or feeling sick. They are always in physical contact with one of their parents and they hate each other, often using violence and screaming to communicate this.
Then there is Angry Dad. He is like a Staffordshire Bull Terrier – loving and devoted to his family but nervous of strangers and ready to attack at all times. He doesn’t realise it, but he shows his teeth a lot and there is often a visible shake happening to his top lip. Angry Dad is so wound up by Angry Mum’s paranoia that he is never able to relax. He has a job to do, to protect his family at all costs, and not to let urbanites like me do ghastly things to them like steal their seats on otherwise empty boats.
By default, ANGRY FAMILY and I do not get on. They are everything I do not like. They see me in my cut-off denim shorts and funky hair scarf and think I am out for myself, and I think they are boring and judgemental. They see me without children and think I could never understand the pressure they are under to raise two ANGRY brats, and I see them with theirs and think they are bringing more annoying people into the world. Within two seconds of me opening my eyes we were in combat. We all know this isn’t going to be pleasant.
‘Right, well those are our seats’ says Angry Dad as if I am chained naked to the seats screaming ‘I am a murderer’ with drugs scattered all over me.
‘Sorry’ I say ‘The boat had set off, I presumed these seats were free’.
I sit for a moment wondering if he is really going to make me gather all of my things and move half a foot to the empty table that is next to us, but it is quite clear that he does. My blood begins to boil. ‘Fucking hell’ I mumble to myself not giving two hoots if the children here me. But ANGRY DAD means it. He can never be spontaneous. If he booked seats in advance he must sit in those exact seats or life just wouldn’t seem fair. I gather my stuff, spilling tea on my laptop and dropping half of my sandwich on the seat. I pick up the sandwich and leave a blob of mayonnaise for ANGRY MUM to wipe up with her packet of anti-bacterial wipes she will no doubt have in her plastic bag in case something, or someone touches one of her ANGRY CHILDREN.
Repositioned I eventually manage to get some sleep. Occasionally disturbed by one of the ANGRY CHILDREN whining about not being allowed to buy Wine Gums from the Duty Free shop – ANGRY MUM eventually gave in.
When the boat reaches Guernsey we get in line to go back to our cars. ANGRY DAD pushes to the front. I wanted to scream I HATE YOU in his face. I wish I had.
Down in the car park our cars are next to each other.
‘Look Mum, that lady has got a dog in her car’. Says one of the ANGRY CHILDREN when it sees Potato.
ANGRY MUM makes a very fake ‘Ahhh’ noise and then continues to pretend I don’t exist. I take this opportunity to let Potato out of the car hoping for the best. As if he knew exactly what I was thinking, he went straight over to ANGRY FAMILY’S car and wee’d all over their front wheel.
To the sound of total hysteria, Potato and I got back into the car. Never before have I felt so secure in the fact that my decision to have pets instead of children is the right one by far!