Our day in Bentalls department store.




I have so many moments of shame or embarrassment in my life; It is difficult to decide which one to write about.

Could it be the one that I have found very hard to overcome?, the fear of being the person everyone was focused on, for instance when having to stand up in a cinema, when everyone around are sitting, and then moving along the rows of seats to buy an ice cream from the girl who was always in the furthest corner of the theatre.

Moments such as this are so easy for other people to dismiss, but as any shy person will tell you, they are very real.

Probably a moment, or should I say several moments of shame, embarrassment or what ever you wish to call it, occurred when I was thirty-one, my wife Ann and I, having been married for four years, were expecting our first child.

For some reason, that I now find inexplicable, we decided to take my five-year-old niece, Karen for a day out in Kingston.

Without any knowledge of children, we may have thought it would make us prepared for our own children when they arrived.

We found our little niece amusing, she had lots to say in the car journey to town, she was a lovely looking child and her mother Sylvia, had dressed her in a very nice frock.

Had we not been expecting a child, I think the day in Kingston would have prevented us from going into parenthood at all.

For as soon as we entered the large showrooms, our angelic little niece became a tornado in a pink dress, she disappeared into racks of ladies’ dresses, and then up and down the escalator.

Only by one of us standing at the top and the other standing at the bottom of the escalator, were we eventually able to capture her.

Keeping a firm hand on her, we thought a dinner followed by a nice pudding would keep her occupied for a little while, and then we would return home as quickly as possible.

We sat down in the restaurant, it was full of group’s of ladies, they seemed to belong to some sort of women’s club out for the day, the tables were joined together to make several long tables.

We ordered our meal and Karen was fascinated with all the pretty hats, at last she had quieted down, and her meal was soon eaten.

While Ann and I were deciding on our pudding, there was disturbance a couple of seats along the row, the ladies’ were looking under the table, I looked round to see where Karen was—thinking the worst—, sure enough the pink tornado was travelling under the table, now more like a pink torpedo, through the legs of the startled diner’s, then to emerge at the end of the table with a wave, in much the same manner as our twenty minute ordeal on the escalator.

Now started the moments of my greatest fear, trying to work out where she would surface from, not only from which end of the table, but which row.

I looked over to Ann for some support, she was very intently looking at the menu, I could see the large open card she was holding, shaking, I could be mistaken but I think she was either laughing hysterically or was just plain hysterical.

A rather superior looking waiter managed to grab our little treasure and bring her to me.

A round of applause went through the dining room; I think the ladies’ thought it was amusing to see a mere male trying to cope with a little girl of five and then losing the battle.

On the plus side, we were escorted from the room and didn’t have to pay the bill.






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