A maths puzzle. What is the sum of 372 hours queuing at Chessington World of Adventures + 211 trips to the Kingfisher x 78 cups of coffee consumed while staring into the middle distance in soft play areas + 102 laps of Richmond Park trying to find a parking space ÷ 3 minutes of frisbee
A maths puzzle. What is the sum of 372 hours queuing at Chessington World of Adventures + 211 trips to the Kingfisher x 78 cups of coffee consumed while staring into the middle distance in soft play areas + 102 laps of Richmond Park trying to find a parking space ÷ 3 minutes of frisbee and 47 ice creams x the square root of a vomiting child at Hampton Court + £3,740 for a family ticket to see Toy Story 4 ÷ an argument over who played with the iPad for 17 hours yesterday + 295 hours sitting in motorway traffic listening to Baby Shark?
The total equals the dad I saw lying on his back in Claremont Gardens, arms and legs akimbo, eyes closed, with three small children jumping on his stomach. Assuming that I haven’t been the witness to a terrible murderous ritual, we must assume that dad had been summer-holidayed. He had exhausted his ability to provide ‘activities’, and had offered up his own kidneys as a trampoline to keep the children entertained.
I understand. Even from a distance, the summer holidays look exhausting. I saw cracks appear as early as two days after schools broke up as a woman in Waitrose yelled at two volcanically hyperactive boys: “If you carry on with this behaviour you will spend the summer holidays locked in your bedroom.” One must hope their behaviour improved, and that they aren’t only now emerging, pale and scrawny, from their Lego-strewn confines.
My childhood summer holiday highlights were the obligatory strawberry-picking at Garsons Farm (one for the punnet, five for Becky, repeat ad nauseam, and it often was nauseam by the time we got back to the car), and to Horton Park Farm (now Hobbledown) which in 1993 had two pigs, five rabbits, a handful of hens and a donkey, and a cracking gift shop full of pencils, rubbers, tiny metal animal figurines and horse rosettes, which my eight-year-old self inexplicably desired with the passion of a thousand suns.
Then came Guildford Spectrum; a game-changer. Swimming, bowling and ice-skating all in one day. Truly a gift from heaven (and a max-out on the credit card for mum and dad, but I was too busy hurling myself off diving boards and pretending I was Jayne Torvill to worry).
So, Surbiton parents, you can very nearly breathe again. You can almost dive into the gin you have been stockpiling, you can run around the house in your pants and eat ice cream while hanging upside down from the bannisters.
Hang in there. You’re on the home straight.
And to the man in Claremont Gardens: if you were indeed the victim of a murderous ritual, I apologise for not calling the police.