I have been staying in London in what must be the only flat in Hackney without a hairdryer. In a flat where two girls and two boys live (including daughter number 1), I can count at least six rugby balls but no hairdryer. This is no surprise as all four of them play rugby but I had hoped for a hairdryer. When my children were small, I couldn't possibly have imagined producing one worldly daughter and one so unworldly that there is no hairdryer in her life. Anyway, instead I had a night's sleep (or not as it turned out) with daughter 1 and her lunatic cat.
I chose not to name my children in my blog (in case they take issue with me - I can always claim to be numerically challenged) but Spanky the cat deserves no such privilege. Daughter 1 decided to get a kitten last year to combat the mice in the flat. Spanky is now an adolescent in all the usual senses of the word and sleeps with the daughter - and on Tuesday night - with me. I now fully understand the term 'cat nap' - this means that the cat sleeps for about an hour, then attempts mining activity under my bit of the duvet, and occasional forays on to the bedside table before attempting a Tom Daley-type manoeuvre on to my head.
My London visit combined mother and daughter time of one variety with mother and daughter time of the other sort - with my mother. This involved a move from the hairdryer-free zone across town (yes, daughter number 1, I can manage buses and tubes unaccompanied) to my mother's London club. This place is great! Full of people so old that I feel like a teenager and very handily situated for my personal treat.
It's rare to find myself in London with no-one to please but me and this gave me the opportunity to take myself to the National Portrait Gallery. Big galleries are daunting and I am not artistic but it was a treat to spend an hour with the Tudor portraits. I know that none of my family would have been up for this but I have a big soft spot for Henry VIII and his three children (the legitimate ones, obviously) and it was bliss to immerse myself in my favourite dynasty.
The Gallery is divided up chronologically so I finished in the photographic portrait section from the 20th century. Two of my favourite male screen icons have stunning portraits there - Dirk Bogarde, not just a wonderful actor and gentleman but a fabulously poignant writer in his later years. If you haven't read 'A Short Walk from Harrods', it is charming. The second is the elegant David Niven, dear to my heart because he and my father had a similar look. Such style and grace puts today's so-called style icons in the shade.
My mother and daughter time with me in the daughter role also included a second visit to the brilliant 'War Horse'. Within literally moments of coming on stage, the horses are totally believable and live and breathe in front of you. Wowed for a second time, I may have to take the children later in the year.
Finally, the mother and daughter combo also visited an ice cream parlour where I chose delicious dulce de leche and my mother something called 'sex, drugs and rock and roll' - apparently it kept her awake all night but that's what happens when you have sex, drugs and rock and roll in your eighties.