I CAN feel the stress coming off Smithy in waves as my friend’s son wipes food-covered hands across the beloved Big Telly.
My husband’s face – and knuckles – have gone white through the effort of trying to stay calm.
He makes a noise under his breath that sounds like: “Nnnnmmmmmhhhhh!”
Said friend – our fifth visitor of the day – continues talking, oblivious to his distress.
She kicks off her shoes, leaving large specks of mud on the carpet.
Then her boy turns his attention from the Big Telly to a patch of clean wall, which he also begins to adorn with mashed banana.
Smithy, who now has steam coming from his ears, leaves the room and I can only assume he’s gone to search the internet for ‘ways to clean fruit off a big telly’.
Finally the friend takes my not-so-subtle hints and leaves – and for a brief window we have the house to ourselves.
This has been a rare event since the baby was born, as the entire North West has ‘just popped in’ to get a glimpse of Her Maj.
“Ahhhh!” sighs Smithy, as he happily Dettols the wall. “Silence is golden!”
Then the phone rings and it’s a man from Pakistan (I Googled the area code) asking for someone called Sarah.
He talks at me (in another language) for several minutes as I try to explain I’m not Sarah.
“Oh!” he suddenly says in English. “I’ve got the wrong number!”
He hangs up.
Silence reigns…until the baby starts crying. And right on cue, there’s a knock at the door.
“Hiiii!” says a delivery driver. “Parcel for next door. Can I leave it with you? Can I take your name?”
I realise in my baby-induced sleep-deprived state I can’t remember my name.
“Er…it’s er…” I pause for several seconds too long. “It’s…Anna?”
It definitely sounds more like a question.
By 7.30pm Smithy and I are collapsed in bed.
Although we are obviously not sleeping because a) the baby is wide awake and b) the phone is ringing.
“Only me!” says the voice on the other end. “How are you fixed if me and the kids pop in tomorrow?”
I turn to Smithy once I’m off the phone.
“We need to hide the telly,” I inform him.
He looks back at me, tiredness etched across his face.
“No,” he says. “We need to hide the bloody house.”
Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on March 26, 2015.