The pursuit of love

I blame High School Musical – a film I blame for a lot of things (chirpy American accents, cheerleader outfits, being constantly told to ‘get my head in the game). But today, I am blaming it in part for Millie’s obsession with the pursuit of love i.e. Mummy when will I have a boyfriend in my class because all the boys are naughty and smell except Luca and I have not spent enough time with Luca to know? Answer – when you are 25 and he has passed several rigorous intelligence checks plus a musical knowledge quiz. I am also blaming Valentine’s Day, which has had a feverish run-up, outdone only by Christmas and last year’s fifth birthday. A fortnight ago she made her cards (all six of them – she is generous with her love). Today she counted those she had received. Four (Bradford-on-Avon Joe, Katherine next door, me, her Dad). Or five if you count the mysterious one sent purely to “Number 13”, although it is possible it was for the house itself i.e. one of the other terraces has fallen for its fading glory, seemingly inured to its shoddy plumbing and slug menace. Anyway, by her own counting she is at least one down. All eyes are on Sam in Year 2, who has so far failed to deliver the goods. Although he is in bed with chicken pox that Millie lovingly donated two weeks ago, so he does have a legitimate excuse.

I have warned Millie that love is not all it is cracked up to be, mostly involving not eating, feeling sick, and getting minty about dirty teacups (so kind of like my Mum with gastroenteritis). Plus sometimes you spend a whole bunch of time trying to get rid of love, i.e. worrying that your mentalist ex with the teeny tiny tappy Mr Tumnus hands will arrive on your doorstep on Valentine’s day in a gesture he thinks is romantic, but is in fact a sure sign of needing medical intervention.

Millie’s answer? ‘Yes but how do you get your head actually in the game Mum?’

Me? I got none. But who’s counting.

About Joanna Nadin

A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics I’ve written more than 80 books for children and adults, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like The Guardian, Red and The Amorist. I also lecture in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and hold a doctorate in young adult literature. I’m a winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, and twice nominated for the Carnegie Medal, for Everybody Hurts, and for Joe All Alone, which is now a BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated BBC TV series. I've also worked with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series and ghost-written Angry Birds under another name. I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.
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