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  • ... after we had returned from our holidays and the day before school started. The washing-machine was churning at full pitch, the house was full of dust and dead insects. The fridge had only just been plugged in and was as bare as the larder. School lists were pinned to the noticeboard, checked and double-checked. Protractors had been bought and lost, were begging to be bought again. School clothes and pencil cases were to be marked with the child's name legibly. Not for the first time, I wished we had given our children shorter names. Shoes had been miraculously outgrown during the holidays and new ones needed to be bought. Haircut appointments needed to be made. Telephone messages listened to, some of them required replies. Several bills had floated into our postbox and needed rather urgent payment. Above all, we needed food. But supermarkets on a Saturday are a nightmare. I braced myself for battle, but even so I could have screamed with frustration at the wonky trolleys, the careless people chatting in front of the aisles I needed to access, the endless queues at the cashier...

    I drag the shopping bags in to find those two bouquets waiting for me. Soundlessly. Shyly. I wonder. I approach gingerly. I see a little note: 'Happy anniversary, darling!' It's the first time since we got married that I had completely forgotten our wedding anniversary. I thought forgetting was something that men did. Or at least my man. And, just as I call out, blushing, my family rush downstairs in an avalanche of love. One bouquet, they explain, was not enough - they could not agree which one was nicer: romantic or exotic. Finally, they decided that Mama was both.
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