I will miss Wembley. Where else, with the possible exception of One Direction’s house (do they all live in the same house? I sort of imagine they do, except the one who left, obvs.) can you walk out of your flat, take the baby for a walk and find yourself in the middle of a crowd of excitable teenage girls all waiting around hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of someone famous?
At least, I presume that was what they were all doing outside Wembley Arena today watching the X Factor being filmed. Unless there was just a really, really long queue to get in.
Piglet was asleep, so I waited for a few minutes, noting that something must be about to happen as not only was there an expectant waiting crowd, but a paparazzi photographer was stationed on the roof like a sniper.
Of course she may actually have been a sniper. Watching X Factor sometimes has that effect on me, too, especially when Cheryl rocks up wearing two dustbin lids and shaming a teenage girl on national television for being “a bit of a bully” and everyone swoons and says she’s the nation’s sweetheart. Or when they cue the Sad Music and start talking about a contestant’s “journey,” and how every minute of their existence up until now has been utterly meaningless because all they have ever done with their life is have a normal job like everyone else that doesn’t involve singing terrible dated covers to the nation on a glittery plinth every week, and also their gran died last year at the age of a hundred and three and it was all terribly tragic and unexpected, and now she must be watching over their moment of televisual glory from that great big living room in the sky, probably wearing a T-shirt with a picture of them on it. Anyway, I digress. Piglet let out a squawk of displeasure at the pushchair being stationary, and I moved on, noting with interest that the real action was not in front of the Arena, but along the side street on the way back to my flat, where Olly Murs was being filmed getting out of a car. Yes, OLLY MURS. GETTING OUT OF A CAR. Take that, waiting public, you missed it.
After all this excitement, (please note I also saw Caroline Flack. CAROLINE FLACK! She was only, like, FIFTY METRES AWAY! And also some other presenter who I didn’t recognise, who was interviewing some people whom I can only assume were PROBABLY X FACTOR CONTESTANTS!) I had to calm myself down with smelling salts, and very nearly missed the yearly extravaganza that is the Forum House Residents’ Party.
This was, in fact, a welcome break from trying to get Piglet to eat his dinner, an ordeal that basically consists of me repeatedly putting him in his Bumbo seat and him repeatedly climbing out and crawling away, although not before giving his sippy cup a nice big shake so that all the water comes out, soaking at least one book in the process.
Piglet seemed to enjoy the party, and it did have the desired effect of tiring him out before bed, as he spent a glorious hour exploring the courtyard of the building, being trailed by yours truly. I was trying to strike the right balance between being a relaxed parent who lets my child explore his surroundings, thus meeting his development potential as encouraged by the likes of Penelope Leach, et al, and being suitably firm about boundaries at crucial points such as when Piglet decided to pick up some stones from the ground and attempt to eat them.
The main difficulty in gauging where exactly the appropriate limits might be, is that there is no one else to tell you. Well, maybe Gina Ford, but like, facepalm. Or my mother, but is it really necessary to avoid all grass just in case a dog might have once relieved itself on that patch at some point in history? There is no rehearsal and no going back and putting it right if you get it wrong. Let’s just say that this evening, in the courtyard, no one else’s baby seemed to be crawling around. They were all either old enough to walk, or too young to do much more than sit contentedly in their parents’ arms. And not one of the assorted children of my neighbours were in any way covered in mud and grass, as Piglet very quickly was. Eventually I gave up and took him back inside. He crawled most of the way back to the flat, which is probably regarded in some quarters as unacceptable, but hey, we don’t have a block party every week.