02 October, 2006

our new baby!

It's here, it's here! After dropping Avery off at school, feverish with the possibility that we could be Mini-ful by school pickup time, John and I hung around the HSBC bank in Oxford Street and withdrew a scary amount of cash, watched with avid curiosity by all the other people in the queue at the teller's window. Wouldn't you think they'd have the brains to do something like that in a private room, instead of counting it all out doggedly right before everyone's eyes? We felt like Bonnie and Clyde. Happily, by the time our teller (who looked about 14 and as if his finger had got caught in a light socket, causing his hair both to stick up all over his head AND turn a greenish white) counted it all even the most tempted of would-be robbers had had to go on to whatever was meant to occupy their day, and we were able to stuff the envelope in John's backpack, which immediately looked to both of us as if it were completely transparent, with a glowing wad of money inside for all to see.

To Euston Station where we boarded a train for a little town north of the city called Berkhamsted, actually a little village. There we were met by a nice lady called Janet, in this BABY which is now ours. She drove us around, demonstrating all its lovely qualities including most importantly a cabriolet top. Whoopee! "We don't get down to London as much as we used to, when the kiddies were tiny. Now, what with seeing a show, and dinner, it'll set you back 120 quid, a day out will. We feel lucky to live right here in Berkhamsted, wouldn't want to live anywhere else."

Then we went to her house to settle up. Her lovely husband John got out all the paperwork including the slightly twee "identity passport" BMW give out with each "cherished Mini." OK, it's more than slightly twee. However. Poor John spent seemingly hours on the phone with our insurers, while I cradled the family cat, a Russian Blue called Boris (naturally). Boris fell in love with me instantly, which emotional state he conveyed by drooling copiously all over my cashmere sweater, a little dividend which threw me into a huge allergic attack as soon as we were shut up in the car on our way home. The insurance nonsense took long enough for me to get a tour of their bungalow, complete with framed prints of various European sights, and copies of semi-famous Victorian paintings, with swirly carpets on the floor and many, many pictures of the two grandsons. "They're the kiddies of our Dave," Janet said. "Honestly, the elder one, he's seven now, he was edible when he was tiny. Positively edible." She made cups of tea, but I was imprisoned holding Boris for the duration of our visit and so I could not imbibe. Finally my John was finished with his transaction and we took our leave. "Congratulations, and you all enjoy her, now," Janet said. "It's our wedding anniversary tonight," John added, "so we'll take the money and go see what we can get for it in the way of a slightly larger car, with a proper boot. It's got to take Mother's wheelchair, now she's broken her hip." It was like being in an episode of one of the British soaps, hearing people talk like that, and seeing such a cottage. I asked, "Well, how many years have you been married then? And congratulations to you, too." John said, "Well, now, it's been 41 years since we were married. Like I say, 23 good years." We laughed. My John said, "Were the 23 good years at the beginning or the end?" "Well, they were spread out, like, so I can't keep track of 'em."

With many exhortations to enjoy ourselves, we were off. Immediately put the top down, and were just settling down for a fabulous run down the M1 to town, when... it began to rain. Just a drizzle at first, so we ignored it, but then a proper downpour. The Mini won't let you operate the roof whilst moving, so we had to pull up and get ourselves protected. Still, a darling baby of a car. We've just brought Avery home from school in it, unfortunately in yet more rain so no top down, and she's christened it... Emmy. Welcome, Emmy!

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