I’m sitting in front of my laptop and it’s my kids quiet time. They are using this quiet time to give my ten year old daughter practice in a gruelling physical skill which means a great deal to her. It sounds like a very serious session with seven-year-old son as the personal trainer. He’s not going easy on her.
They are using both flights of stairs in our dishevelled townhouse, to help Maddie to practice walking in heels.
Even three months ago, the same daughter would not have given any heels a second glance. Or, for that matter, a handbag. In the mysterious intervening time, however, she seems to have developed an Emelda-Marcos style shoe thing and a need for handbaggage to match every outfit.
Scene change: a green and pleasant English cricket field. The young personal trainer is transformed into a young hopeful, waiting for his first place in a cricket club.
Felix has been showing himself rather good at bowling. He can fell grown men (in purely cricket terms) in minutes. Those who underestimate this four-foot bowling machine have tended to slink off after just minutes playing with him.
He is desperate, obviously, for his first cricket bat.
She, for a handbag and heels (which will never, if her mother has anything to do with it, be seen outside the house).
How to combine these two disparate world views? There is one simple solution. The charity shop, the thrift store, the op shop. Whatever you call it, it’s calling you.
After a morning doing extra maths and visiting a great-aunt and great-uncle, we jumped in the car and headed for a prosperous neighbourhood where the wives seem to have tennis lessons and receive facials for a living.
The same wonderful wives clear out their exclusive wardrobes, walk-in shoe closets and childrens’ nurseries on a regular basis. They make an assessment and, quite rightly, conclude their leavings should not be taken to the tip. So they totter in their Jimmy Choos, dressed head to toe in Prada, into the village, and drop them all off at the local charity shop.
Then they have lunch at the cafe in the luscious little settlement.
Cue us. We have hailed from a nearby new town with our pocket money, and our first stop is lunch because Felix is running on empty and that makes him grumpy. We sit happily side by side with the Prada wives, listening to chit-chat and supplying our own.
Jacket potato, baked beans and cheese later: and its off to charity shop number one, which always has a great toy selection.
And there, in a place a little beyond my wildest dreams, it stands: a perfect child’s cricket bat with a £1 price tag. Bingo.
A ninety degree turn and a few paces takes us to the handbag section. There hangs a diminutive Rosetti handbag, tiny enough for a ten year old, not brattish, might even let that one out of the house. Four quid.
And then we looked down. There, in the shoe section: a pair of size 31/2 black spangly shoes. Sparkly slingbacks reminiscent of Monsoon (Marks in reality) , with a tiny 1 inch heel.
That shoe thing that grasps all women when they see pretty, silly shoes gripped both mother and child. With a £3 price tag those tinsel toetappers were not staying on the shelf. They were ours, baby, yeah.
Felix didn’t notice because he was busy communing with the cricket bat.
We trundled off down the street having spent very little but assuaged the God of Materialism for another day. And it felt good.
Now Felix is busy designing an assault course for people wearing heels. One of the gruelling hurdles is a cricket bat.