A couple of weeks ago, Sally Whittle asked me if I’d like to come along to Mothercare HQ and be wingman for a talk on the Modern Digital Mother.
Sure, I said.
No problem, I said.
This was, after all, what my job was, way way back many centuries ago. Standing up in front of a room full of IT geeks and showing them all about security monitoring software. And I knew all about the Modern Digital Mother. I have research ‘n everything.
This’d be easy.
My brain had kind of forgotten that it’s been over 10 years since I did the whole stand-up-in-front-of-people thing. But it’s like riding a bike, right?
So last week, Sally sent me over her presentation so that I could add my slides. I flicked though it on Thursday and thought “yup, I’ll get right on that tomorrow”.
Only I didn’t.
And then it was the weekend… and we did weekendy type stuff, and I thought “oh, it’s fi-i-i-ine, I know the stuff already, I can plop some slides in on Monday. It’ll be dandy.
Monday night, and I appear to have lost the fabuloso research folder I have full of all my essential stats, and have now spent the last 4hrs researching, reading and writing it again from scratch. I call it a night, and think I’ll start again in the morning. Only a couple more slides left, after all.
Tuesday morning I complete the rest of the slides, feel happy with my notes and stats for my bits, and all is good.
Tuesday afternoon, post-school run, I realise I need to charge the laptop and move the presentation from my iMac to it.
5:00 p.m. – I turn on laptop, and get the blue screen of death.
5:05 p.m. – guilty-looking 9yr old attempts to slink past my hair-pulling frenzy without being spotted.
“oh!” he says, a little too brightly “is there something wrong with the laptop? I THOUGHT it was acting a bit weirdy at the weekend….”
My 9yr old owes his health solely to the fact that his mother, in her previous previous life was an IT support technician who knows her way around the back end of a blue screen of death. He may have slight deafness in one ear from the screeching, though.
7:20 p.m. – Abandon all laptop fixing tasks whilst consoling tired 5yr who, during goodnight kiss, discovered that I will not, in fact, see her in the morning. Much “But how will I eat BREAKFAST? And how will my clothes know where I am?” type crying ensued. Funny no matter how much your brain knows better, that old parental guilt can’t help but leap up and poke you in the eye occasionally.
7:45 p.m. – Laptop back and fully functioning.
7:55 p.m. – Realise that laptop has no MS office installed. Ergo no PowerPoint for the PowerPoint presentation. Swear words are now being uttered freely.
8:05 p.m. – Begin downloading the heavenly blessed marvellous 60-day-free-trial of MS Office onto laptop.
9:45 p.m. – Laptop now loaded with presentation, satnav set, clothes ready, phone charged… and relax.
0:00 a.m. – Lying in bed, eyes wide open, worrying how the fark I’m going to remember a single thing I have to say, and not end up making a total arse of myself. What was I THINKING?
Up and at ’em early, I’m in the car by 6:30. Roads are clear, weather is good, Everything’s working properly – all feels far less frantic and far more in control than the night before.
As I’m heading along the A303 I feel a sickeningly familiar stomach cramp start to creep in.
NOT NOW, ffs!
(apologies in advance, this one may be a little TMI if anyone from Mothercare actually shows up here and reads this…).
Now, my periods are not your average run-of-the-mill monthly type. Oh no – that would be far too simple. No, I have what’s clinically knows as menorrhagia – which basically means they’re very very heavy, borderline swampy. And Day One is always the worst. Thanks to my lovely GP helping me avoid them with the aid of strong chemicals whilst I was on holiday, I have had No Clue when the next one might be showing up.
Driving towards London with no back-up tools in my laptop bag was probably not the best place to find out.
I pull in at Fleet Services to raid Waitrose for supplies (and strong coffee), and find a text on my phone from Sally.
Her Flu has defeated her, and I’m On My Own with the presentation.
Heading in to the services, I purchase the necessaries and head to the loos. Brain flustered with my morning of Calm & Well Laid Plains falling in crashing shards around my toes, I punch a perfect thumb hole in my tights. Of course.
Then, for some reason, I take the square of paper from the sticky wings of the (extra long super absorbant please-see-me-through-the-next-3-hrs) sanitary pad, and hold it in my teeth for a sec.
I finish up, go to Costa, and stand in the line for my desperately needed coffee, texting the husband… and become aware I’m still clutching a square of pretty blue-lined paper in my teeth. MUCH to the amusement of the table of women sitting to my left (they can’t actually have recognised what the paper was, can they? *dies inside again*)
Holding my head high, I scrunch the paper into a ball, gain my coffee (farked if I was going to leave without it…), and leave as fast as I can.
Back on the road, I make good time, thanking the podcast gods that I can catch up on what’s been happening in Ambridge (is anyone else thinking Kathy is being a bit of a nightmare to poor old Jamie?) and I gather my thoughts, running through the presentation mentally and starting to grab a few elements of control back.
I come off the M25 at 9:03, and am just 6 minutes from my destination, according to Mrs Satnav. Perfect – I was due to start at ten so that gave me plenty of time to set up, relax, and run through the presentation by myself.
And as I hit the A41 I stopped.
One. Long. Car Park.
I lay my head on the steering wheel and may actually have wailed.
I finally made it into Mothercare’s car park at 10:10.
Everyone was in their seats, expectant faces watching as I unpacked my bag. There was no time for anything – just plug in the laptop, open the screen and go.
Which was naturally the point at which the laptop said
“Installing 146, 789 updates… please wait…”
I didn’t cry.
I’m quite proud of that.