After gnashing my teeth and considering opening an artery, I was placated by a bacon buttie and so opted for grinning and bearing it, for are not the happiest pebbles in the rough stream of life the smooth ones, allowing the troubled water to flow over them?
Who knows. They're pebbles. Their priorities are probably different from ours. More minerally.
Anyway, we parked in the underground section because the boy M (aged 7) wanted to, and then got the lift up a single level because the girl, A (aged 4) wanted to. Then to John Lewis's shopping emporium to obtain footwear. Didn't see John himself, but someone else helped us. His nephew maybe. The choices were a tad lacking so we defaulted to middle class back up shop Clark's, and bought some there instead, with me handing over an actual bag of gold just to prevent my offsprings' feet from toughening up.
It was crowded, being a Sunday, and I could feel my usual aversion to crowds welling up like a geyser full of vitriol, so we made our way to the relative calm of Waterstone's for a ganzy at the books. People were waiting in a queue to see an author, but M and A were in too much of a hurry to see the aquarium they have in there to allow me to find out who it was.
I spent a few minutes looking at books, and explaining to A that she mustn't frighten the fish by smacking toy Orcas into the glass and shouting "Rah!" when I noted an American chap standing next to me, chatting to a young girl about a book.
It was, and I can't stress this enough, The Fonz.
Turns out Henry Winkler was doing the book signing. Me and a few similarly aged parents smiled at each other and raised eyebrows,but generally left him alone because, well, we're English. I bet a few of them wanted to point thumbs at themselves and say "Ayyyy!" though. Apart from me. I wouldn't even think that. He then proceeded to buy the little girl the book she wanted, which made her mum melt, before wandering off into the paper clad aisles.
I looked at the books he was there to promote, and asked the girl and her mum if they were any good, perhaps suitable for my son. They said yes, so I started flicking through them.
Henry walked past me, causing me to smile and nod. He then stopped, and we had a damn nice chat. He said he thought the books should be okay for a seven year old, and explained the premise behind a few of them, warm and enthusiastic at all times. Then he wandered off again to look at shelves of things. I took a Hank Zipzer book, the first one in the series I think, over to my son and we perused it, before he said yes he would like it. K (aged 42) gave me a monstrous hall'ow'e'e'n sticker book for A to buy as well, so she wouldn't tear the mall down in fury if we had the audacity to buy her brother something but not her.
At the till, Mr Winkler walked past me again.
"You've sold me." I said politely, indicating my purchase.
"Great." he said, and then "What's your son's name?"
I told him, and he wrote a personalised message in the front, then shook my hand. We cheerioed, and off he went to take his seat at the signing table, where the queue had become appropriately huge.
I'm not that bothered by celebrity, but that proper tickled me that did.
After that, we visited Pizza Express with vouchers because only the super elite who want to remember what it's like to worry about prices pay full whack for Pizza Express, where we watched A dance on the chairs, run round the table and talk loudly to the staff. A drive home saw A fall asleep so we put her to bed. M and I had a quick race on Wii MarioKart before he went off to bed and I am now eyeing up a bottle of red like an alcoholic lion spotting a pint of zebra.