When Harry met Sally….and the Britmums

Maybe it was the alcoholic soda stream drinks and free-flowing champagne?

Or the Oscar-like ceremony for the best of British parent bloggers? Or the hilarious and downright brilliant blog posts read out by their authors at the end of the conference.

Comedian Viv Groskop hosts Britmums Awards

Or perhaps it was the release of tension and nerves after meeting up with people they’d got to know over the last year but who they’d never actually met – but who knew their inner most thoughts. Quite a bizarre phenomenon

Maybe it was all that estrogen-charged emotion induced by hearing tributes to courageous mothers and fathers bereaved of their children, and the strength of the blogging community that has held them together over the past year?

Or hearing the model Katie Piper’s testimony of how she has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of rape and horrific acid attack.

Perhaps it was the potent Harry Potter jelly beans – can you believe they actually make Black Pepper flavour? I mean, really?

Or was it just the simple pleasure of being free from wiping noses and bums for 2 whole days?

Whatever it was, one thing can be said, the Britmums 2013 conference was clearly intoxicating.

Intoxicating enough for five ‘older to know better’ parent bloggers to ’cause a disturbance’ in the neighbouring restaurant, neighbouring pub and then train home.

Now, by disturbance I don’t mean the dancing on tables and leering at waiters sort. Or swearing loudly and being generally offensive.  I mean the laughing rather loudly at the ridiculously funny stories we were telling to each other over a bottle of something white and alcoholic.

Nothing that should bother you if you were out for a meal at 9pm on a Saturday night in central London. Unless of course you happen to have a sleeping baby and want to keep it (the baby) that way.

And that’s what our laughter did, apparently. Bother the baby.

To be precise, we were actually asked by the waitress to “be a little quieter as we’ve had some complaints”. I couldn’t quite believe my ears.  Even Hayley from DownsSideUp, the most gracious and enchanting blogger I met, was incredulous and that little bit annoyed.

But the retired American couple next to us didn’t agree.  About 10 minutes later, as they got up to leave, they looked our way and threw us a broad wink and a smile.

“I’ll have whatever she’s having!” the lady grinned, pointing at the loudest of them all.

Yes, that was me.  The blame was falling fully and squarely on my shoulders.  The reference to that film had us all falling about laughing. I was now Sally.

After they left, we followed suit, not wishing to stay beyond our welcome, thank you.  Too early to go home (the kids might still be up, for goodness sake), we opted for the rather refined pub opposite. Despite it being stuffed full of stuffed-full animals of every kind that their clientele probably wished they were shooting rather than trading bonds and hedging their hedge funds, we were made most welcome.  The barman was wearing what looked like fancy dress (tweed trousers and bowtie) and sporting a moustache that looked alarmingly like it had been ripped off the badger in the case just behind his head.  And so he quickly became known as ‘Badger Man’.

After kindly stowing away our many bags and cases in a handy cupboard (you won’t believe how much clobber the sponsors give you at these things) we were offered a bottle of wine, water and as much laughter as we wanted.  There were no children in there who should’ve been in bed, so we were safe.

At 10.30 we reluctantly decided it was time to head home. Three of us being from the same town, we headed to Kings Cross for the train.

Those of you who have ever commuted in London will know how deathly these train rides are between the hours of 6am and 9pm.  Never, ever chat to a fellow commuter. Don’t even think of giving eye contact. You might turn into stone.

But after the 9 oclock watershed, however, it all changes. Oh yes. Suddenly, the social shackles of the day are thrown off with abandon, and anybody can talk to anyone about anything.  Loudly.  Something to do with alcoholic consumption and enjoying the delights of the capital.  And this night was no exception.

With barely a seat for our tired legs, we squeezed in the remaining spaces.  Only to find we’d squeezed next to 3 rather inebriated rugby fans, one of whom was so drunk he face looked like a spitting image mask as he tried to keep various orifices open, without success.

Oh heck, I thought.

To the other side of us were a ‘mature’ couple of my parents’ generation who’d no doubt been doing something refined like going to the theatre, and a younger thirty-something couple opposite who looked like they were from a very nice town north of St Albans.  They were followed by a troupe of teenagers who stood next to my ear.

Don’t you just love public transport?  It’s the mixing pot of life, the great leveller.

On my lap was a goody bag, bulging with samples from the various companies who’d come to try and win our blogging affection.  Curious as to what was in there, I started pulling out items like a child with a Christmas stocking.

Staring at the words written all over the bag, the largest and least drunk of the rugby fans piped up with that boyish, cheeky, ooh this is going to be funny voice, “So what’s Britmums?” The words were emblazoned across the bag.

My friend tried to explain.  This was then repeated by said rugby fan (lets all him Harry) so the entire carriage could hear.

Of course, we now had to empty the bag at Harry’s behest.  It was like The Generation Game.  A Sodastream bottle, a serious grim looking novel, a Hello Kitty book and Fireman Sam sticker book. A baby’s bottle, weaning food, a box of sweets with personalized name on it (sadly, I’m not called Lucy) and something that can only be described as a mini inflatable ring.

“What’s that?!” several people chorused.  Quick as a flash, my friend suggests “A nipple protector”? Peels of laughter from us, quizzical looks from the ruggers, and mild smiles of approval from the mature couple.

I thought it could pass off as a Sylvanian families life ring which my daughter would love.

In the end, the give away was the Lion’s Eggs written on it. Oh Lord, it’s a new fangled way of holding your boiled egg still while you smash it over the head with a spoon.  A travel egg cup! Just what we all need.

Last but not least was the ultimate in things-you-never-knew-you-needed-for-your-child: a Kattoo.  No, I know you haven’t the faintest idea what it is, nor did we.  Seems it’s a sticker thing that you write your child’s name and phone number on in the event of losing them.  Nice little idea if you’re travelling with pre-schoolers but really, the name?! Spare us.

Mr Friendly Rugby Fan mischievously grabbed it and the pen and decided to stick it on the neck of his out-for-the-count friend who didn’t even stop snoring.

Having no need for most of this, I asked our fellow passengers if they’d like to be the lucky owners of any of this stuff? I managed to off load several items to their bemused grateful selves.

The next morning I woke up with a bad case of twitter-itis and wondering if I’d ever had such a funny night out.

Credits: thanks go to Hayley, Renata, Lisa and Victoria for making the evening possible.

Britmums Birds

16 thoughts on “When Harry met Sally….and the Britmums

    • I know – you and several others who I really wanted to meet but couldn’t find! I think i’ll be there next year, its a bit far ahead to decide at this stage. If I go, which is v likely, I’ll be more prepared and have some way of arranging to meet up with you guys beforehand…

    • Thanks Susanna. Afterwards I realised I didn’t say a big thanks to you and Jennifer for organising the whole thing! It was fab. I have some ideas for how to improve it even more next year so if you have a feedback form or way I can send you my suggestions that’d be great! Enjoy the rest of the posts…S

  1. Was so great to meet you at Brit Mums Live! And I love this image of you unpacking your goodie bag to squeals of delight and horror from the entire train carriage… genius. x

    • I’ll have to go and get a soft perm to complete the look (funnily enough i DID have one of those at Uni, and some of the guys called me Sally! I’d forgotten that….). Feelings’ mutual. Lets start planning a parent bloggers confce in Cornwall…!

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