Sunday, August 26, 2007


I've just come back from a week's holiday en famille in Dorset. We went back to a lovely little cottage in Winfrith Newburgh, called 'Snail's Place' (information here), which is perfect for this kind of trip. The kids love the olde worlde bit and we can tuck them up in the evening and stay downstairs with a good bottle of wine and a DVD -- currently more of The Wire...

On the way, we stopped on the M3 at Fleet services to stretch our legs and get something to eat. We had already crawled round the M25 and were a bit frazzled. The two-year-old is not always great on such occasions and this time she really kicked off and had a bit of a tantrum. Nothing nuclear, really, just a lot of noise. But it was a very busy place and lots of peole were feeling similarly grumpy and many of them had kids who were doing the same or had done so in the past.

But one couple at a table next to us were not very happy with being this close to a wailing child. I suppose I can see their point, but there is not a whole lot you can do about it in a place like that and in holiday-traffic levels of people. Still, what was unusual was that in addition to the tutting and eye-rolling, one of the men decided to lean across and directly address our daughter with several loud orders to 'hush'. Not what normally happens. Of course, this did not result in a quiet toddler; quite the opposite. In fact, had I been so ordered by someome who might -- by a less kind critic -- have been described as 'gaunt, with an overly-tight white t-shirt and Club Tropicana highlighted hair', I would have been uninclined to do anything but scream back. Which is precisely what happened.

I was a bit annoyed at them too. I know screaming kids are incredibly annoying. Other people's screaming kids are perhaps more annoying still. But we were hardly in a Hampstead bistro and I would have thought that you might expect to come across some less than perfectly behaved kids in Fleet services on an August Saturday. And even if they were, perhaps understandably, annoyed and put off their muffins just a little, you don't shout at other people's children like that.

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