Lots of stuff to organise for Lille, which is now only a week away. Lots of things like – erm – where we’re going to stay … 

Like many naturally organisation-averse people, I am surprised afresh every time I do actually try to organise something at how time-consuming and hard it is. I mean, obviously, I suspect that – that’s why I’m organisation-averse – but I always assume that, because the majority of people take it in their stride, I am making too big a deal of it and actually it is really easy. 

But no, it really is long-winded and dull. 

I imagine the trick is to remain goal-focussed. Goal – tear-free, long weekend in Lille. Maybe including a trip to the zoo, lots of croissants, and buying a pair of red, pink or purple wellies (size 21 – I’ve looked it up. Perhaps I’m getting good at this organising lark after all.) 

Talking of organising, I acknowledged my limits in that direction only yesterday evening.

I had volunteered for some overtime at work. Nothing to do with my day-job, it involved going round the borough and knocking on, say, 500 doors to get stragglers to put themselves on the electoral register. Hard work, they said, but good money. Come along to a meeting. 

In my head, before I’d even got to that meeting, I’d spent the money – mostly on Piaf, of course. The meeting confirmed that the money was indeed good – even better than the sum I’d already spent in my head, in fact. 

But it also confirmed that the work was hard – and, more problematically, quite inflexible and time-pressured. I soon realised that I would be earning this money at the expense of time – evening cuddles, weekends out in our ancient but serviceable old man car – with maman and Piaf. 

By the end of the spiel my mind was made up. I approached the organiser and withdrew from the scheme.

I am the first to acknowledge that we are very lucky. That extra money would have been nice, but the honest, privileged truth is that we’re fine without. I certainly would not knock anyone else for taking up the chance I turned down. And, in my head, I am still wondering if, after all, I could have made it work out.

But, given that we don’t need it, here’s how I’m thinking deep down. It is highly unlikely, based on my own experience of life and the anecdotes of a thousand older, wiser parents, that Piaf will remember nothing of this stage of her life. Not a sausage. 

Nevertheless, if she does retain even the slightest subconscious trace of these early years, tucked away in a dark recess alongside apocryphal memories of stone baths and sunny days at the beach, I would rather that trace told of a father who tried to be around for her whenever he could, rather than a father who spent a fortune on Christmas one year but who never got to kiss her good night.

 Like this? Try these. 

Je fais du shopping, tu fais du shopping, elle fait du shopping …

Je câline, tu câlines, elle câline …

Je voyage, tu voyages, elle voyage …

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