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End of the summer holidays

It’s almost here. The end of the summer holidays and back to school. Back, in what seems like an eternity, near the beginning of July, you wondered how you would cope. How to maintain the usually challenging work life balance, when the life bit, namely the kids’ free time was decidedly tipping the balance?

No doubt, some heroic booking of summer football or drama camps, judicious use of grandparents goodwill and nannies to fill the gap around a family holiday, you have almost made it. Not quite a zippy Team GB Cycle Pursuit performance, more like an ultra marathon, carrying a sack of potatoes with a game leg. Well, it’s not that bad, only on some days.

Back to School juggernaut

Before you know it, the whole ‘Back to School’ juggernaut and first day of school, is looming into view. We live in North London and this Saturday morning, on our customary weekend trip to the rellies, the lovely quiet summer roads were replaced by a tailback to get on to the North Circ, my least favourite road.

We had just left Sports Direct. Yes, the Mike Ashley empire we abhor for its working practices, but our first port of call when you have to buy several pairs of football boots, shin pads, replica football kit, cricket kit etc throughout the school year. No matter how early you go, we can never seem to get out in less than 30 minutes when buying two pairs of football shoes for our two sport mad boys. At one point in the summer time, we went to the sportskit mecca on 5 consecutive weekends, when the boys got into cricket and had outgrown their trainers!

How hard is it?

How hard is it? We wanted one size 2 and one size 3 pair of football boots with studs. The nice, but slightly harassed, shop assistant repeatedly scanned the barcode to do a stock check, but random shoes kept on appearing on the handheld ‘phaser’ screen. When that didn’t work, he barked some numbers into a mouthpiece. Finally, he went to the stock room and kept on returning with the astroturf version instead of the plastic studded version. This before the full on back to school rush!

Overwhelming smell of plastic

By this point, the heat and the smell of plastic was making the ‘Brunette’ (my lovely wife) gag. When the shop assistant did come out with the right style, it was the wrong size. It turns out, it wasn’t my son’s mistake for handing him the wrong style, all the sizes were mixed up. Goes to prove, fancy IT stock systems that are conceptually slick, don’t always match the reality. I wish he could set the phaser to stun and wake me up when the ordeal was over.

Finally, boots sorted, we had to go through the rigmarole of not being allowed to take the shoe boxes downstairs to the tills ourselves, lest we make a break for freedom with our branded booty, and then suffer an airport security wait at the tills before finally escaping to the North Circ. traffic jam.

On reflection, I prefer the latter, at least in the car you have air-con and listen to your own music! Onwards – Back to School!

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