Today is my day off .....
To see clients, read, write, practise a downward dog or simply to stop, sit still and listen to the ebb and flow of my breath.
Every Wednesday, I hand over a very willing Little A to a child minder who's taken care of her for nearly two years. She's a down to earth, consistent woman who I completely trust with my toddler.
In the lukewarm spill of the shower I consider the day ahead. I make mental notes of friends to text, twitter, or facebook - why don't I just pick up the phone - and engaging ideas for blog posts. I had intended on writing another instalment of my Once Upon a Time series but then this morning unfolded in a surprisingly baffling way .....
My ten o'clock appointment cancels which means I have an extra hour in today's schedule. I decide upon an excursion to the local supermarket. I've already prepared a hastily written list of culinary regulars like fish fingers, cheerios and 50/50 bread. Additionally, my purse harbours the all important shopping trolley pound. So off I set in my blue grey mummy mobile to the holy grail of food aisles in Chiswick.
I prefer to shop at the supermarket during the morning. As the aisles are relatively empty, I can navigate my trolley along two for one soup deals, wheat free inventions and palate sweetening condiments with wistful abandon. It's practically a meditation and by the end I feel almost self actualised.
Today my item list is short and so my shop is a brief contemplation.
I head for an empty check out. The trolley is laden with bounty and biscuits. And this is the moment where matters start to get a little strange.
In the adjacent queue I spot the husband of Younger Dad's cousin. He's there with his toddler who's deeply asleep in her buggy. We say our hellos and make small talk. I'm stuffing yogurts, bacon and houmous into a bag when two other customers line up behind me. One is a woman who appears to be of Malaysian origin. Her countenance hints at late middle age. The other is a man dressed head to foot in smokey grey attire. I don't notice him at first.
The cashier is still scanning my items when the woman moves to stand beside me. She's looking into an open purse with the anticipation of buying her goods. She isn't aware I haven't finished yet and I'm feeling a little uncomfortable with her proximity. Inkling tells me she might be new to the country. The cashier acknowledges the situation by asking the woman to step back until I've purchased my goods. She obliges without any fuss.
Without my noticing the man dressed in grey, Mister Grey, positions himself on the other side of the loading area so that he's stood facing me. He's also too close for comfort. I glance at him. His face is fairly young. I'm thinking early thirties. His expression is tense and ashen. His grey clothes are casual and a little unkempt. Then I look down to view what his fingers are fiddling with. I'm amazed by what I see. Between his hands are layers upon layers of fifty pound notes the thickness of a Bertolli butter tub. Actually, probably thicker than this. My first thought is no one carries around that amount of cash ...
I feel threatened by his stance and the wad, of what may be, dubious money. There's something edgy about him.
Now the woman is sidling closer again. I feel flanked and hemmed in by both strangers.
Enough. I've had enough.
I take a step back and foolhardily request "guys, could you both please give me some space here until I've finished".
Mister Grey tightens his facial muscles and retorts quite malevolently, "I can stand where I like. I'm from Brentford. The streets."
I tell him I need some room. That I feel intimidated by his presence. That I don't want to see his pile of cash.
He snarls, "you think jus' cos you're from Chiswick you can order us around. I'm a dad y'know."
"Well I'm a mum."
My friend in the other queue butts in "she's not from Chiswick."
He's right. I'm not. But hang on a minute. So what if I was?
Then out of the blue the woman hisses "no" and orders Mister Grey back to her side with the commanding flick of a hand.
What? They're together?
How are these two disparate souls connected?
I finish packing and pay in haste. The cashier apologises. Why? She hasn't done anything wrong apart from burdening me with annoying coupons I'll never use.
Before I leave I turn to the odd couple with a parting shot, "this wasn't a class issue, this was a space issue."
Mister Grey is about to respond but the woman admonishes him with a steely look. He backs off.
My friend escorts me to my blue grey mummy car out of concern for any reprisals.
As I pull out of the car park I see the woman and Mister Grey exiting the supermarket. I'm left wondering what brought these two characters together. It also dawns on me that Mister Grey's mention of his origins had nothing to do with class but was instead a threatening gesture. And why was he in the Chiswisk branch of Sainsburys with all those crisp pink notes?
I left the supermarket in a not so zen like state.
So tell me, what do you think was going on? Bent? Or just won the lottery? I'd love to know your thoughts .....