It was time, we felt, that the youngest of the brood (well, to be honest, brood is a bit strong – we only have the two of them) was capable of coping on his own for a few hours in the evening and, more than that, sourcing his own food.
This does not mean to say that we expected the young boy cub to start foraging in the bins or resort to hunting on Leith Links clad only in a loin cloth and sporting a makeshift spear made from a bit of bamboo and a flattened Irn-Bru can.
Food would be left in an accessible place, and by that I mean the fridge. The kitchen was festooned with instructions on food sources, preparation and emergency numbers in case of, um, an emergency.
There were last-minute instructions from me, which included reminding him of the food sources, preparation and emergency numbers in case of, um, emergency.
I also reminded him that we had always said that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, he should scoot into the attic – no need to take the cats, they’ll be fine – haul the ladder up after himself, let the undead blunder about the house as they can’t manage door handles so I think they’d have a lot of bother getting the loft ladder down, wait until morning, then meet up with his big sister and make for Inchcolm and hunker down until rescue comes, at which point his sister will lead the resistance, and become President of the Human Alliance.
I know, there are people who think I am doing the boy down, but she is a seriously smart cookie. He can be the glowering right-hand man.
He wasn’t listening. I know why not. He favours holing up in Edinburgh Castle if the zombies take the town. It’s been a point of contention between us for a while.
We left him, confident he would be fine. I know he was fine. I called 19 times. He was very patient, but the exasperation was starting to creep into his voice. He was, I suspect, beginning to suspect the old zombie invasion would probably be easier to cope with than an over-protective mother.
Of course, we left instructions on everything, except one thing. The washing up.
I’ve earned my stripes . . now pass that gin
The first time I let him go to school by himself on the bus, I made him phone from the bus, at the bus stop and at the school gates. The first time I let my daughter travel out of my sight, I called so often my mobile overheated and spontaneously shut down.
It’s a rite of passage, of course. That gut-churning moment when you realise the cubs have grown, they can hunt for themselves, and they don’t need the ageing tigress to stand between them and the world.
Evolution is staring at you with a look that says, “You still here? You’ve done your bit. The genes have been passed on, the child has been raised and now there’s not much point to you, is there? Here’s your ice floe, off you pop. Leave your donor card. You’re only good for spare parts now.”
That’s why I drink so much gin. I’m determined to wreck my kidneys before some young gun gets a hold of them . . .
Thumbs-up for drivers
Festival awards will soon be chucked about this city and various performers will be tearfully clutching trophies and choking back the tears as they thank their mums, agents and Mrs Brown in Primary 3 for their support and for this wunnerful, wunnerful honour, thank you so much . . .
It is time, I feel, to propose an award to unsung heroes of the Festival city. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you – the drivers of Lothian Buses.
This gallant band of men and women daily negotiate the lunacy of Edinburgh’s traffic, from deranged motorists who think indicators are for wimps, to the endless rerouting, road closures and diversions.
They steer their buses like galleons through the city, whilst shouting “This is the parliament, right here, pal” into the faces of tiny Japanese tourists in brand new rainwear.
They lower the ramps for wheelchairs and buggies whilst Swedish backpackers thrust soggy maps at them, and Americans endlessly ask about the way to the Castle.
They do all this with patience, grace and humour. Lothian Bus drivers, take a bow.
My presence can unite even sworn enemies
My overbearing maternal instinct is a bit ironic, bearing in mind that when I was a student, I wandered off to the Negev desert for a working holiday in a kibbutz for weeks, in the days prior to mobile phones and all that malarkey.
I asked my mum if she and dad worried whilst I was blundering about the Holy Land. She said my dad’s only thought was that my presence might bring peace to that benighted land as both sides ganged up to have me sent home.