Sunday 13 May 2007

Mummy on the edge Families NW Magazine May/ June 2007

Angelina Melwani on ducky ponds and the ancient art of compromise…

There is a sacred space in my kitchen. A corner of worktop, just above a cupboard door which is threatening suicide from its bent hinge, is the site of a self-built shrine to the ducky pond. A towering architectural wonder made of stale bread and abandoned hot-cross buns, it is a guilty reminder that a) I bought too much bread and b) we need to go feed ‘dem ducks. It’s something that Mini-Me usually does with my dad who meticulously tears purpose bought bread into duck-bite-size confetti. There is duck fun to be had everywhere! When the cheese aisle has lost its lustre and Mini-Me has tired of my speech on the benefits of fair trade to Jamaican banana farmers, it is helpful to know we can step out of Tesco Extra in Watford and marvel at the wonders of nature (not to mention assorted old shoes and drinks bottles) in the canal-type bit of water outside. See, bet you’ve walked past it a thousand times and never noticed, eh?

Another secret place that I tell my Sing and Sign mummies about is Warren Lake in Bushey. You can get to it via the Mary Forsdyke Gardens located opposite St Peters Church in Bushey Heath and it’s so indescribably and mysteriously pretty. When I first saw it I couldn’t believe this oasis of tranquillity existed just adjacent to the busy High Road with its bustling shops and cafes. The Aquadrome in Rickmansworth is fab for duck fancying (not to mention watching people fall off their windsurfs) and really beautiful for walks. Last time I visited, I was also salivating over other mums’ yummy dishes purchased from the organic cafĂ© (The aromas of which also served to disguise the pervading smell of duck poo in the height of summer!) How I wish I’d left our soggy sarnies at home. Don’t forget to use to find comprehensive details of other parks in North West London with ducky ponds too.


I have been educating Mini-Me in the art of compromise. Yesterday I experienced a particularly challenging day facing corpulent despot in court and all I wanted to do in the late afternoon was smother my head in cake on the sofa in front of three recorded Oprahs (ITV2 around 10.30ish – I worship at the altar of Oprah; guaranteed upliftment, priceless, yet cost-free). Mini-Me, however, had other ideas. “Mummy, I love you. I really want to go to my park, Mummy”. (Her park, the one she thinks she owns!) “Darling I’m sooo tired. Let’s have a cuddle on the sofa with a book” (bearing in mind we had been to the Pirate Ship in Kensington Gardens the day before – it’s not like she’s been nowhere). Then she went off to go to the loo and I heard her merrily singing a made-up composition based on the rhythm of here-we-go-round-the-mulberry bush. “I want to go the paa-aark, the paa-aark, the paa-aark; I want to go to the paa-aark but my Mummy is too tired”. Ouch, that hurt! Instead of caving completely and displaying utter weakness, I stirred an extra spoon of sugar into my cup of tea and began negotiations. I told her I would be prepared to take her for a tour-de-green-patch-outside-our-house on her bike instead and I explained that this was a “compromise”. (Who said I would never use my media-buying skills again?) She was also able to shout to the pre-teens who play outside which made her feel part of the gang. She happy, me happy; Win win.


On our third lap of the green patch outside our house, I stopped to give a lecture to the neighbourhood kids on not taunting possible mental patients who may not be taking their medication when I heard them repeatedly shouting "You can't break our legs!!!" at a bald old man who they said had threatened to do so.  
"I suggest if someone is threatening you, don't provoke them. Tell an adult... But not me. One of your dads." I instantly regretted saying that, because maybe they don't all have dads at home (mine doesn’t). I went on in demented paranoic fashion as one of them jumped up and down behind me making the others laugh, clearly having identified the true neighbourhood loon. "There are lots of unstable people out there! Don't you ever watch the News?" 
"No" was the reply. Note to self: from now on must record Newsround for Mini-Me.