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And with one bound he was free

“Free at last, Free at last…free at last.”

Look, I’m no Martin Luther King (Jr). I’m certainly no Carlito Brigante: hero – no, protagonist – of Carlito’s Way. But as the digital calendar clicks over into September, I’m celebrating my own, small emancipation.

The memory of that family holiday is fading as fast as the sunlight on an early autumn evening; those ire-inducing queues in a stifling uniform store have been overcome; WH Smith (other stationers are available) has been plundered for protractors, rulers, unsuitably indelible felt pens and useless novelty pencil sharpeners. Even the last-minute raid on the supermarket has been achieved and the fridge stocked with unacceptably bad snacks and sandwich fillings.

And now, here it is…that glorious first day of school. Up early with all the bounce of a spaniel puppy, lunch boxes lovingly filled with goodies, school bags at the ready, kids fed, dressed, washed (sort of), swept out of the door, into the car and deposited at the Gates of Knowledge ready to embrace another academic year.

Now, what to do. First things first: a trip to medium-sized town for a celebratory coffee or two. Time to skim through emails, browse the web, check the Twitter feed … hell, I’m even going to buy a good, old-fashioned newspaper and read it cover to cover.

Late morning, it’s back home to tidy the breakfast bombsite, whip through the washing/ironing/bed-making/meal-planning. Nice day outside, I’ll go and sit in the garden for 20 minutes and offer the cat a comfortable place to curl up.

Spot of lunch, a few more emails, a fabulous hour or so doing all that admin-y stuff you can’t manage during the holidays because your role as Butlin’s Redcoat/short-order cook/tech adviser/goalkeeper/listener to general nonsense doesn’t permit it.

Quick glance at the clock – Oh God, it’s happened again. I’m late for pick-up. Charge out of the door, race through the village and arrive, panting, to be greeted by the familiar sight of #2Son standing, conspicuously, in the playground, with only his teacher – His New Teacher! – for company. ‘Er, sorry about that, got stuck behind a lorry in the main street, would have been here five minutes ago…’. Teacher is forgiving. #2Son less so. He’s seen it all before. Most school days, actually. Still, a snack from the village shop will pacify him as we head for medium-sized town to collect #1Son. Thank God for after-school clubs.

Then it’s back home. No homework yet, they can help themselves to TV or a bit of device time or head into the garden or come and talk history or politics or whatever they like with me as I conjure another culinary masterpiece: the first of around 190 similar weekday efforts until that blessed day when another academic year draws to a close and I’m free at last.
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