'The day I met Buzz Lightyear' (or, 'Beware the Ankle Biters at your Peril').

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

As usual I’m sat in a coffee house. It’s not quite 8.30 AM and this is my special time to charge my batteries, have a think and luxuriate in the strong taste and smell of Brazilian coffee. Bliss eh? Sadly not as it’s that time of year when all the little ankle-biters are back at school.

It seems that modern mothers are not able to get little Hermione or Julian their breakfasts at home any longer. Instead, they rush them into the behemoth that is a 4 by 4 and bring them out to eat and annoy anybody else in the coffee house before dashing off and chucking them out at the school gates thus giving the modern mother time to get home, grab a G&T and emerge later as one of the ‘Ladies Wot Lunch’.

Nothing wrong with that you may think but spare a thought for us thinkers and ponderers who have just sat down with their aforementioned coffee. All we want is little bit of peace and quiet. It’s not too much to ask; is it?

Over there sits a screaming six-year-old. I knew there’d be trouble with that one when he and his minder, dolled up to the nines, entered the place and the mother asked the kid what he wanted to have for breakfast. WRONG! You don’t let a child that age choose anything! The poor little underprivileged little mite wanted ice cream, chocolate cake and a punnet of strawberries. At this time of day! I mean, it’s not going to happen is it? Obviously the mother refused and suggested tea and toast.

Well, the obnoxious, recalcitrant little reptile suddenly morphed into a Tasmanian Devil (and we all know how ferocious those are don’t we?). It amazes me just how LOUD a small child can be. So ANGRY. I swear that if this child had been an adult at this time there would have been a mass slaughter taking place just yards from my table or, at the very least a murder committed (his mother’s). Thank God children are small eh? I’d better point out here that I don’t really despise the little ones. I was one myself once BUT I was never asked to CHOOSE what I wanted to eat at that age, it was decided for me by a ‘responsible adult’ which this mother in question certainly wasn’t.

So the duo order, make their way to a table and within seconds of their breakfast arriving the young boy in question has thrown his toast on the floor. I watched with bated breath to see how ‘mummy’ would react ... Nothing, Nada. Not a flicker of emotion crossed her face as she stared transfixed at her mobile phone. The kid caught my eye and we both shared a moment of communication as he seemed to ask what he needed to do to get his mum’s attention. I shrugged. He took a deep breath and let out a wail of indignation. Mother’s abnormally large pumped-up botox lips continued to move as she read the latest social posts from her friends.

Guess what little Marmaduke did next? Up and away like Sir Mo Farah. This kid’s definitely Olympic Medal material I thought as he skittered around the place creating merry hell. Mum’s plaintive exhortation to return to his seat went unheeded. The little devil just stared at her, with a malevolence that was truly scary, from the other side of the room. Mother’s attention returned to her phone and the latest version of her next-door neighbour’s turbulent affair with the postman.

An older customer leaned down to me as he carried his coffee and whispered in my ear. “A six inch nail would sort that little bastard out.” I looked at him questioningly and he continued. “Through his right foot. Pin the little git to the floor.” The thought of little Marmaduke going round in circles certainly made me smile and I wondered if his young mother would notice the whirling dervish by her side: probably not!

Then, lo and behold, our little candidate for ‘Most Well-behaved Child of the day,” slowly scuttled, crablike, in my direction. Closer and closer he came until he was standing right next to me. A frisson of terror ran down my back as I recalled jungle exercises and how to deal with deadly poisonous snakes. The standard method is stay still on the assumption that it’s better to avoid a confrontation rather than instigate an attack. By now Marmaduke was up close and about to say something. I stared intently at him almost imagining I could see his forked tongue flicking over his mouth. As I was not in the jungle I knew that to draw my knife, grab him by the throat and cut his head off was not an option. I say this metaphorically dear reader for I would never harm a child, although exceptions could be made in certain circumstances when the responsible adult has ceased to act!

“When I grow up I want to be a spaceman,” he lisped sweetly.

If you grow up, I thought to myself.

I tried to ignore him on the premise that discretion is the better part of valour.

“Or a reality star,” he added. bbb

Subconsciously I felt in my pocket for a six inch nail, to no avail. I looked over to the mother; no change there, she was oblivious to the little rocket man she’d brought into this world.

“Are you famous, mister? I’m going to be famous one day.” Was his next gambit.

More likely infamous came to my mind.

I stared him in the eye, took a deep breath and whispered, “Just go back to your mother, little one. Go on. Now.”

“She’s not my mother, she’s my nanny!”

It was only then that I realised I had a miniature Jacob Rees-Mogg before me and look how he turned out!

A shout cut through the chatter of the other people in the cafe.

“Marmaduke! Come on, we’re leaving.”

Nanny, still staring at her phone, was making her way to the exit. Not once did she look behind to see if her imperious command was being acted upon.

“Your nanny is going,” I pointed out as little Buzz Lightyear stared at me. “Off you go. Quick or you’ll lose her.”

“I don’t like you,” was his final barb as he turned to catch up with rubber lips.

He obviously had no idea that the feeling was mutual and as Nanny and Tasmanian Devil / Viper / Buzz Lightyear disappeared over the horizon a palpable sense of calm descended on the establishment.

Memo to self – get nail and hammer from garden shed and never come here again without them!

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