Yesterday I went to hell. Or, more specifically, Gambado during the school holidays.
Gambado is your average soft-play centre, only bigger and more garish. It being the holidays, there were a lot of older children there. What you forget about older children, when you spend little time with them and have been hoodwinked by sentimental Victorian notions of innocence and purity, is that most of them are vile little shits, who would smilingly murder each other if it meant they got to the slide quicker. I stood near a large group of them in Bunhill Fields the other day, their picnicking parents close by but out of earshot, doubtless grateful their offspring were playing so nicely. Except they weren’t. They were tormenting each other, calling each other knobhead and loser, and kicking footballs aimed squarely at each other’s faces. And those were the nice ones, the ones called Arlo and Felix, who have long hair and wear organic, fair-trade cotton tees.
Anyway, Gambado. Don’t know why I went there. For a start it’s in Chelsea Wharf, possibly the hardest place in London to get to from Shoreditch. I couldn’t face driving, and the law of the underground is that, if there is a lift, it will be out of order, and you’ll have to stand teetering a buggy over the top of the stairs until someone volunteers to help. You’ll then smile gratefully, making out like you didn’t realise buggy + kid + all the random kid crap = around 60 kilos, thanking them as they quietly despise you for daring to take the Tube in rush hour when everybody knows it is only for office workers during this time. ‘You won’t need to go to the gym now!’ you’ll joke as, red-face and panting, they drop the buggy at the other end, a light film of sweat coating their brow. Nyuh, they’ll grunt, silently vowing never to help another mother again. I know, I’m spoiling it for everybody.
To top it off, the boy didn’t much like Gambado. He screamed much of the time he was there, hating the crowds and finding the bumper cars too scary. What I am learning about small boys is that they do not need complex entertainment. Show them a building site or some public transport and they’re pigs in shit. Fifteen quid on a warehouse full of soft-play equipment is frankly a waste of money. Although, to be fair, my Mum friends tell me that on a Monday morning during term time it’s a different place altogether, which no doubt means that at some point I’ll be persuaded into giving it another go.