Liz Fraser, 19th November 2009
I often get the following reaction when people who have read about me in the press meet me for the first time: “Wow, you’re not at all how I expected you to be. You’re….really nice, and normal.”
I am powerless not to immediately snog people who say this to me on the mouth – but not with tongues…there’s too much swine flu about. Because living with the name Yummy Mummy over your head is a bit like having ‘World’s Smuggest Prat’ tattooed across your Botoxed forehead, and when people ‘get’ me – the real me – it’s a small champagne moment I like to acknowledge.
Because I’m not. A Yummy Mummy, that is. At least, not in the Chelsea tractor/au pair/Jimmy Choos/home-made butternut squash gloop/more money than you can shake a Bugaboo at. Nope. I’m just a mum doing her best to raise her kids, and who doesn’t look like shit. And that’s quite yummy enough for me.
Today is a good example of non-yummy mumminess. I’m not making any of this up – and I have witnesses…
I take my kids to school this morning, on our bikes – me with a cello on my back, and 2 lunchboxes and a book bag in my basket – and then walk the entire length of the playground and back to drop my kids off at their classrooms, before cycling home again. When I get in I walk past a mirror in the hall.
Something looks weird. Where is my skirt?
Aha – there it is…tucked neatly into my pants at the side. Nice. Thanks for pointing it out, guys.
After a morning’s productive writing, I have a meeting in town at a café called Le Gros Franck, with a very exciting person I’m hoping to work with. (I could tell you her name but I’d have to shoot you, so let’s just say she’s exciting, I could work well with her and the feeling was, I think, mutual.) The meeting goes well, until, in a mad moment of low sugar, I try to eat the small chocolate that comes with my coffee.
Please don’t ever try to do this in a meeting.
Here’s why: as it rests against a hot cup of coffee or similar, chocolate melts and what was a square of mouth-watering delight turns into a social catastrophe waiting to happen. And thus it is that, on unwrapping the little bastard, I get chocolate all over my fingers. There is now only one option open to me, unless I want to sit here with one hand peculiarly under the table for the rest of the meeting: I have to lick chocolate off all of my fingers without looking either a) like a weaning toddler or b) highly sexually suggestive. This is no mean feat but, by some miracle, I think I get away with it and I’m not arrested. We say our goodbyes, agree to sow seeds and get balls rolling and take over the world by Easter. I return to my bike.
This is when I realise that my lock has jammed. Like, completely. After several minutes of squatting by the roadside and being whistled at by passing workmen (which is of course very pleasant because it means someone still finds me attractive, even if that someone finds anything that moves attractive) I give up, and go back into Le Gros Franck. I ask for some oil, please, because my lock is stuck.
The Polish waitress looks blank, and goes to ask chef. Chef comes out. Chef is very gros indeed. Maybe this is Franck. He looks at me suspiciously, and we have the following glorious International communication moment:
Liz: No, no, I have three children.
F: Zee Oeeel.
Liz: Oh, the oil. Yes…. virgin….fine. Or not virgin. I just need some lubricant, really, for my lock.
I shouldn‘t have said ‘lubricant’, or ‘lock’ because now Franck looks very hot under the collar indeed. He retreats with great panache into la cuisine, and comes back with a small cup full of light green liquid.
“‘eer you are. Eeez extra virgin.”
The word ‘extra’ is hissed, like a spell is being put on me.
The oil works a treat, the lock pings open, hitting me in the eye, and I return the cup thanking Franck very much for his help. He never once takes his eyes off me, staring at this bike-lock jamming whore of a woman with three children who asks chefs for lubricant and wastes perfectly good olive oil on her bicycle lock. Ca alors!
Returning home, I hang out the washing and get back to my writing. As I sit down, I notice I have copious quantities of melted chocolate smeared across my crotch.
Poor Franck. No wonder he looked so suspicious of my intentions with his oeeel.
And I’m suspicious that I am not at all a yummy mummy in any way at all. But I’m happy, yummy or not. And hey, tomorrow there’s every chance I won’t make an idiot of myself. It’s not a big chance, but it’s one I’m clinging to. If I avoid people, and talking, and lubricants, I think I stand a good one.