Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Going Ape

This Saturday we are celebrating Eldest Daughter's fourteenth birthday. She was born in April and yes, it's September which means her party is five months late. Given that Eldest Daughter is always late for everything, I don't feel too bad about having taken so long to organise her party. (The only time Eldest Daughter has not been late was back in 1995, when she arrived, uncharacteristically, ten days early).

As I write this, it is raining. I am hoping it will be fine and dry on Saturday as we will be spending the afternoon in Swinley Forest, staggering along bendy rope bridges and swinging from tree to tree, fifty feet above ground. Yes, we're going to Go Ape (why oh why did I ever agree to this?) where, for three ghastly hours, we will be attempting to emulate our prehensile primate friends.

And when I say 'we', I mean Eldest & Youngest Daughters, assorted fourteen year-old friends, Ex-Husband & Much Younger Fiancee ... and me.

I am terrified of heights. I am not particularly agile. I don't even own a tracksuit. I do know how to ride a bicycle but I don't think this is a skill which will come in handy on Saturday afternoon. If it rains on Saturday and my hair gets wet, I am going to look like shit. I am forty-five.

Much Younger Fiancee is thirty. She has been to Go Ape before, as part of a work team-building exercise thingy and she 'love love loved it!!' I'm fairly confident that it was she who first planted the idea of a Go Ape birthday party in Eldest Daughter's mind. On a recent trip (with Ex-Husband) to New York, MYF attended a Circus Skills Day and learned the art of trapeze. She liked it so much that last weekend she arranged a similar day out in North London for Eldest & Youngest Daughters and herself (Ex-Husband went along, but only to read the Sunday Times). She is clearly a bit of an adrenalin-junkie. And oh, I forgot to mention: she's also an Olympian. Yes, honestly. She has represented her country at the Olympics. (I have to admit to having always been a bit suspicious of people who are too sporty.)

Don't get me wrong. I'm really glad MYF is such a fun gal. Weekends with Dad are way more fun for my girls now that she's around. Before MYF appeared, an episode of X-Factor on Saturday night used to be the highlight of their weekend. Now they actually go out and do stuff, which is largely a result of MYF's youth and enthusiasm. Good for her, I reckon. And I do really like her, apart from the fact that she once tried to steal my hairdresser (about which I have written previously here). She has only ever been lovely to my girls, for which I am grateful.

But really, I'm so wishing that she hadn't ever mentioned Go Ape. Now that the day is almost upon us (and my daughters are almost delirious with excitement) I'm starting to dread it. And I'm trying hard not to think evil, paranoid thoughts about how MYF might have manipulated the situation to her advantage ie. she will be whizzing between the trees at 100 mph, whooping and hollering joyfully with my daughters and their friends, looking beautiful and athletic, while I stand, rooted to the spot and paralytic with fear on some wooden platform 50ft up a trunk, unable to open my eyes and very possibly wetting myself (in which case it might be better if it does rain).

My only comfort (which has only just occurred to me) is the thought that Ex-Husband will, in all likelihood, be rooted to the spot, even more rigid with fear, right next to me. He is a much bigger woes than I am, and far, far more afraid of heights. Right now, he has absolutely no idea that he is actually required to participate (Go Ape specify x no. of adults per children taking part). So if he (or I) don't pluck up the courage to give it a go, then some of the girls will have to sit out. Which would be unthinkable, of course.

It's not that I've purposefully withheld this information from him: it's just that he's never asked for details (which is fairly typical) and I know (knowing him as I do) that he will have assumed that he'll be doing the bare minimum. Right now, he's expecting to sit under a tree somewhere (or inside a cosy canteen, if it's raining) with a hot, frothy latte and a copy of the Saturday Telegraph. Hahahahahahahahahaha. Little does he know ......


  1. That is quite funny! I absolutely would HATE that too!

    You sound very together (in your head) about spending time with ex and his girl friend. I hope I can be so when the time comes. I mean, I should be, because it is me that is leaving him, not the other way around, but I can't imagine him ever being civil to me ever again at the moment!

    It is great for your children that you can all be together. I admire you.

    Chin up, it might be fun (hee hee!)!

  2. Would it be completely wrong to take a hip flask of something strong and courage-inducing? Just for a little sip here and there, when it gets too much? Or is that a horribly irresponsible thing to suggest? x

  3. Thanks, Sub. Being 'matey' with Ex and Much Younger Fiancee does seem to mean the world to my girls ... so I try. (I do sometimes think mean thoughts, though ....!!)

    Shiny: what a splendidly good idea. I'm sure I'll sail along that zipwire with breathtaking (and hopefully not neck-breaking?!) flair after a couple of nips. Just off to the off-licence now (bottle store, to you) ... x

  4. I think I would absolutely Go Nuts if someone told me I had to Go Ape. Good luck!! Maybe you and ex can take it in turns to read the papers on terra firma?! Tag for you at my place

  5. Tee hee! Your ex is in for some fun!

    Shiny has the best idea - a quick nip of whisky will make all the difference. Is it possible to be found drunk in charge of a zip wire?

  6. Fab, thanks yet again. You're too kind. Am so flattered, esp. since it's clear from your blog that you've got magnificent taste.

    DD, thanks for tag. Am inordinately grateful to get a mention in your blog and also very excited. If I survive tomorrow, I'm looking forward to coming home to an empty house (girls with Dad this w/end), a GREAT BIG glass or three of Pinot Grigio and the tag task, which will be fun.

    Mud, hello again. Have just been catching up over at your blog (and wishing I lived your fabulous, interesting life)!! Have decided vodka will be my tipple of choice tomorrow: no tell-tale smelly breath and can so easily be added to 500ml bottle of Coke....

  7. Hi there, ha ha, I love what you have written about the vodka...that would be my choice for the sneaky tipple too :-D
    Your post conjures up so many funny images, I will definitely be back to see how you all get on! Good luck!

  8. Hi Julie. Welcome! And many thanks for the good luck wishes. Am about to head off down the M4 now .... hope I'll be posting later today ot tomorrow, and not in traction at some Berkshire hospital!?