There are a number of films, games and books where the main protagonist starts out by waking up in a back alley with no memory of his life or identity. All he has to go on are the contents of his pockets. Usually these consist of a peculiar, unlabelled key, one half of a torn photograph and a bloody knife.
Unsurprisingly, it takes him a few days to work out he's a secret agent/terrorist/very unlucky librarian and he can go weeks without remembering he's married and has a wise-cracking teenage child. It's all very unfortunate.
I, however, am much more prepared for this kind of situation. I realised this the other day when I reached into my jacket and pulled out two paintings, a collage and approximately half a birthday cake.
This wasn't an entirely normal haul but it was strangely representative of the items I often find myself carrying around. My numerous (and extremely large) pockets are always crammed with stuff. I wouldn't get to the end of the alley before thinking, "Hmm... I suspect I may have left some children around here somewhere..."
On a typical trip to collect the boys from school, my pockets contain the following:
About the only thing that isn't here is some rye...
- Woolly hat and scarf. The scarf is a recent addition for Autumn but the hat stays with me all year - it keeps my head dry in the rain and is less bulky than a poncho or umbrella. In another week or two, I'll need gloves as well.
- Phone. I always carry this with me in case of emergencies. It usually creates emergencies by distracting me with a text message at inopportune moments. Then the battery dies.
- Keys. These are unlabelled but the keyring has photos of my children in it. (You know, in case they ever leave me alone for five minutes and I forget what they look like... or which fence I padlocked them to.)
- Six of Marie's elasticated hair rings. I could have sworn I only had two the other day. They're breeding.
- Two handkerchiefs - one for me and one for the children. I'm not too fussed about passing a cold round between them but I'd rather not have it myself, thank you very much.
- Assorted letters from school, nursery, clubs and church, handed to me by small children as they came out. I should really read them. It's on my to-do list. (I think that might be in here somewhere too...)
- Used bus ticket.
- Emergency pound coin for use in shopping trolleys and vending machines. Once upon a time it was also enough to get us all home on the bus. Thanks to inflation and the kids getting older, it's now only enough to buy some chocolate to keep us going as we trudge back in the rain.
- Two pairs of nail clippers - small one for them, large one for me. Do I really need these with me the constantly? Possibly not but it saves searching the house for them whenever one of us gets a hang-nail.
- Packet of mints. To stave off coffee breath. Also good for keeping the kids quiet
while I read my text messagesin an emergency.
- Wallet - bloated with library cards, leisure cards, loyalty cards, money-off vouchers, receipts for fresh fruit and vegetables, a forlorn five pound note and a very tired credit card. Oh and a blood donor card that's been waiting about five years for me to have time, energy and health simultaneously. Speaking of which:
- Packet of throat sweets. Yep, got a cold again. Think I may have muddled up the handkerchiefs last week.
- Loose change. Maybe if we scrape together this and all the cash the boys have found on the ground or in the return slots of snack machines, we can catch a bus after all...
- Empty sweetie wrapper. If there isn't a bin around, the kids simply hand their rubbish to me. Cheers.
- A reusable carrier bag. I haven't stocked up on fresh fruit, milk and bread since the day before yesterday. Better pop into Tesco on the way home...
- A small bottle of bubble mixture. The important thing is to make sure the lid is on really tight. (Throat sweets, phones and soapy liquid don't mix well.)
- A pink, sparkly fairy wand. How did this get here? Ho, well, at least it's not a large, cuddly Teletubby... or a used nappy... or a bag of vomit... Life is getting easier.
And that's not all... I'm probably never going to wake up in an alley having lost my memory entirely but I am gradually forgetting everything anyway, thanks to a combination of tiredness, age and having my brain filled with information about pokémon, Mario and Angelina Ballerina. Bearing this in mind, carrying a diary and pen might not be a bad idea, too.
I may need more pockets.
Yours in a woman's world,
PS I met Anna from BalancedMum.com the other week. She offers career and life coaching to mums, enabling them to better juggle and enjoy all they're doing. I'm not quite that in touch with my feminine side yet but she seemed pleasant and to have a clue. I said I'd get you to pass on the link to Liz. (The site has an option to sign up for a newsletter of tips and ideas.)
PPS Now... Where did I leave those children...?