London. With Kids. (Never Again)
I used to be her. That woman on the train with the handbag and the shoes. The one snarling at the mum who’s blocking the aisle with her grotty pushchair; her snotty kids taking up the seats while I was left standing in my painfully high heels.
“Why do they do it?” I used to moan to DH, who was, at that point probably only Dear Boyfriend. “Why would you take your kids on a packed train full of commuters? Why can’t mums just stay at home and do Play-Doh with their brats?”
So today, with a 17-month-old, a five-year-old and a pushchair that was just a little too large for public transport, I was the Other Woman: the one with the snotty kids, not the good shoes.
Oh my. London is not made for pushchairs. “Mind the gap” took on a new meaning as I nearly deposited both DS and the pushchair down the looming hole twixt platform and train at London Bridge. I know DD is going to have nightmares about leaping over the chasm herself.
And then, when we got to our destination – in the ghoulish desertion of off-peak hours when there was neither stationmaster nor lonely cyclist to help – we were faced with three flights of stone steps to get down to the street. The only people in sight were a pair of pensioners, on their last legs after the dizzying ascent.
“Looks like you could do with a lift,” panted one before collapsing on the litter bin. I wasn’t going to get any help from them.
So I loaded the 10kg nappy bag onto DD, took DS in one hand and the pushchair in the other and bumped it down all three flights. The return, at 3.30pm, was not so easy. Climbing up three flights with a pushchair in one hand and a wriggly baby in the other as the train pulled in overhead was more than a Challenge Anneka job for me.
Still, we managed. Our connection at Waterloo was faultless and we made the 4pm train back home. I’d planned the time thinking we’d beat the rush hour but sadly not. Lady with the shoes: if you want the train free of kids, work till 6.