Ship Shape


“I told you I had to dress up as a pirate today Mum,” said Tom.

We were running across the playground towards his classroom door, where there was a flurry of black and red and a glint of gold. Closer inspection revealed lots of skulls and crossbones, bandanas and parrots on shoulders. Shit.

He did tell me, the night before. I rifled through the dinner money slips and drawings in his book bag and couldn’t find a letter, so decided he must have been getting mixed up with Comic Relief.

I impressed myself with my ability to assemble a pirate costume in less than ten minutes. The house is a tip, but somehow I remembered the eye patch in the cutlery drawer, the cutlass in the toybox and the bandana in his bedroom. There were raggedy-bottomed trousers from his dead pirate getup at Halloween, but the only stripy top I could dig out had a yellow submarine on it. Modern pirates ambush submarines though, don’t they? I grabbed my best eyeliner and darted back to school, planning to scribble on a good beard. As it happens, no parents are allowed in the school whatsoever, at any time, not even to dress their odd-one-out child as a pirate.  I had to forget the beard, hand over the getup (minus the plastic cutlass, which I should have known was banned) and leg it back to my desk, hoping I’d be forgiven.

I think I was forgiven, as he didn’t say much about it when he got home. And if I hadn’t been forgiven then, I certainly have been now…

We’ve been living in this house for three years and it’s starting to look tired. I keep talking about moving to a bigger place, or to the Posh End of Town, but for now, we can’t afford it. I am crap at anything that involves drills and stepladders (actually, I own neither of those things) but I know that if we’re going to stay, we need to do things up. I began clearing out Tom’s room a couple of weeks ago, swapping his cot bed for a high-up captain one and chucking out the crumpled tubes of nappy rash cream and odd (clean) nappies that were lurking behind the bookcase. Then my neighbour, who is an interior designer (and an angel – another reason not to move out of this house) decided on a very special gift for Tom’s forthcoming fifth birthday. She offered to do up his room. I helped her a little, but the colour scheme and all the common-sense stuff like screws and raul plugs and paint were down to her.

Tom arrived home from his Nan’s tonight, groggy and confused.

“Come and see the surprise,” I said, as he threw himself on to the sofa and wailed.

“No! I just want to go to bed!”


Upstairs, he blinked and looked around at the new bookcase, the bright walls, the den benetah his bed and the camouflage hammock full of his best soft toys. We waited for a reaction. Now I know how Claire Sweeney feels.

“It’s amazing,” he croaked, hugging us both.

I can’t wait to hear him wake in the morning.  I keep creeping in there and gawping at it myself. It’s good to have friends who are talented at the things you’re crap at. All I need now is a PA to remind me when it’s pirate day.


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3 responses to “Ship Shape

  1. Anne

    Aw, that’s lovely. I wish I had a next door neighbour to do up my bedroom! I bet he’ll love it. X

  2. It looks fantastic.
    And I’m glad you specified clean nappies.

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