“Gosh if it stays this sunny we’ll need to get her one of those shades for the car window”.
They may be practical, they may save Daddy’s Little Princess from squinting and squirming on the back seat but ask yourself is this really worth the stigma? It’s a road to ruin on more levels than I think any parent dare imagine, beginning innocently enough with a smiley cat shade and culminating in a dank marquee, a half glass of warm bitter and a sea of biege depravity.
I’m old enough to remember a time before the “Baby On Board” sticker, a happier time, when ‘baby owners'(surely The Bar Manager’s greatest ever quote) were a respected, noble race. The original yellow diamond design appeared to be a warning sign, but it was never really clear what the warning was intended to mean “Achtung! Important Package Coming Through” or “Danger! Liable To Screech Into A Wall At Any Second As Child Screams At Me In Confined Space So You Might Be As Well Hanging Back A Bit”? Either way, it’s no longer the case, they’ve become a badge of honour for baby owners to identify each other by -“I Have Left The House In Odd Shoes Again, But I’m In Baby Club So I’m Comfortable With That And With The Cereal Stuck In My Hair For That Matter”.
As a new member, I’m still baffled by some of the rules of “Baby Club”, especially the way other members stop you in the street to inspect your young. Obviously friends and family have to do this by law but it’s still a bit weird when it’s random passers-by (another thing I’ll be adding to my ‘Revised Syllabus For Baby School’ is the appropriate, stock responses in this situation. My standard is “Oh yes she’s good now, but then she is asleep, ho ho ho”, this seems to be acceptable)(providing the infant in question is asleep). It occured to me yesterday as a veteran (a child owner) stopped and did the standard “Ahhhhhh”s and “How Old?”s etc that, Ok I’m now in Baby Club so I need to get used to this, but… when I first joined “Couple Club” with The Wife I didn’t feel it was appropriate to stop other men in the street to ogle their girlfriends. With the benefit of my new found knowledge this seems prudish and unfair and so I urge all boyfriends, husbands, stalkers etc to start this practice immediately – “Phwoaaaar!” or “She’s F.I.T, good work fella!”. Anyway, sorry…
The cutesy little smiley teddy window sunshade is merely the ‘family car’ owner laying down an unwitting statement of intent, to concerned friends and family, that their life has taken a distinctly dark turn. For, they will soon be overtaken by an overwhelming urge to fit a windscreen sun reflector thing whenever they leave the car for more than 20 minutes in anything brighter than a total eclipse(Incidentally, the winter equivalent- the Buzz Lightyear duvet cover, is a very close second to groggily stumbling up the path with a boiled kettle in hand at 7.30am, in the Winter vs. Windscreen vs. Idiot ratings). Yes, we are told that ‘Dogs Die In Hot Cars’, which suggests it’s not an ideal situation but to be fair, had canis familiaris had the brains to invent the car in the first place, man’s best friend, being a far more laid back species, would have simply opened a couple of doors and let a bit of air in.
“I don’t care what you say about my foldy, windscreen sun shadey thing, it’s practical, look all those camper vans have got them.”
Indeed they have, for they have stopped off by the side of the road to drink weak tea on a plastic chair, on their way to the Abersoch Jazz Festival… and finally we stumble exhausted across the point. ‘Motor homes’ have little curtains build in, yet still the ageing Jazz gypsies insist on a foil clad, fold out ‘sign’ – but a sign of what? Again the meaning is unclear. Or is it? On the continent they don’t really ‘get’ curtains as a concept, a drawn curtain is a sign you have something to hide. In the case of the ‘jazz weekender’, I think we’ve all suspected at one time that they hid a morally terrifying life of bearded, sandal wearing sexual depravity behind their scratchy little biege curtains AND their foldy -sunshadey things. And it’s this foldy sunshadey thing that is their badge of honour, their sign to other like minded Jazz swingers, it’s the ‘Dames On Board’ sticker for ‘Jazz Club’. Just think on, next time the ‘Jazz Weekenders’ creek into town observe the standard group dynamic, always one gent and two or three beige women. The Jazz pimp and his purple rinsed, sun visored ho’s fo sho.
So next time you wave off Uncle Derek, Auntie Eileen and their friend Pat as they head off to the Upottery folk festival, just consider their actions of the coming 48 hours, (and then go and sit in a dark room, or better still a comparitively less bright back seat, until the nausea passes) because lets be honest, they can’t possibly be there for the music.