Go shopping after work to the one remaining Mothercare in central London, Marble Arch.
Opposite side of road - M&S. the Oxford Street M&S people said the Marble Arch one had a maternity section so I go on. Apparently they don't but they do sell tights - so I'm thinking - hmmm..... plane flight, support tights - could be better than knee highs that could fuck my legs up a bit... go upstairs.
Sitting down crying softly to himself with a pair of crutches is a little boy. Poor wee thing, I think. His Mum must be getting something for him. He starts to cry harder and an M&S person goes by, he sobs, "Can you get my Mum, that lady, can you get her, it hurts... it hurts..."
Looking at his leg, he has an horrific looking lump on the front of his leg that looks frighteningly infected, swollen and awful. I stand with this woman watching the scene in dumb shock. We talk about what we can do - there's nothing we can do surely, my God, I can't stand this.... woman walks off in horror.
I begin to walk away thinking "Jesus, there must be something..."
I can't walk away. How could anyone walk away. The little boy is desperately upset and in a hell of a lot of pain. I mean you can tell, when someone's crying whether it's real or emotional. I go and hold his hand and say firmly "What is your name. I will get the shop to put out a message so your Mum will come". He stutters his name and I mishear it, so I repeat it back to him and he nods his head, weeping.
I go to the counter, and wait a moment - the boy's cries can be heard all over the shop now. He's started to get in to that terrible spiral of hysterical crying.
"There's a little boy here in terrible distress, his name is XXX (can't remember) and I want you to put out a message for his Mother to come and collect him imediately"
By some amazing chance, his Mum is there at the counter. She says with some irritation "He's mine, it's alright" - she's been buying underwear!!! She begins to saunter back to the boy, looking at products as she goes - frankly, I've never seen anything like it in my life. She eventually gets to the boy and stands in front of him screaming.
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!!".. and so it continued....
At which point I HATE myself, hormonal tears start pricking innto my eyes through sheer amazement and horror. Damn it. Damn it!!! I wanted to take that woman by the shoulders and say to her - what the hell do you think you are doing? He needs to be at home with an ice pack on his leg! Get him home! He needs your love not your abuse! Instead there I am walking away with tears pouring down my damn face.
I also had a strong wish to just slap the stupid bloody woman round the face and wake her up. What made her react like that - embarrassment? What the hell was she doing taking her poor kid shopping for fucks sake? On a sweltering day, in the west end! Anything, ANYTHING with the exception of medicine for him should have waited until he was safely at home with pain killers and at the very least a packet of frozen peas on his leg - he'd obviously just been to hospital or something.
And me being so bloody weak. It made me curse myself. Although not one to think this kind of thing normally, I really wish Mackay had been there with me. Together we could have controlled that situation, got them in to a cab, paid for a fucking cab, I don't care, and got him home. What sort of woman.... what sort of mother. Jesus.
Whatever happens in my life, I hope to God if I ever got to the point of abusing my child in a situation anything approaching that, someone would intervene and make me realise what I was doing. And I'm damn well intervening if I ever see anything like that again.