Posted by: okathleen | June 14, 2009

Whatever next in Waterstones


I was browsing the Philosophy section in Waterstones: would it be the Baudrillard

‘It is always the same: once you are liberated, you are forced to ask who you are.’

or the Foucault

‘What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is only related to objects, and not to individuals, or to life.’

when I was distracted by what seemed to me an extraordinary scene.

Philosophy is squeezed in between Self Help and Children, and out of the corner of my eye I could see a mother a child and an overladen pram. The mother was very busy making her small toddler comfortable on its potty in the middle of the shop floor.

Bibliophiles, browsers and bored looking staff all carried on as the mother chatted away with her offspring in an outdoor voice offering oohs and ahhs of encouragement. Right there, on its potty, in the middle of the shop. 

And when the mission had been accomplished she put the toddler under her arm, balanced the brimming potty and dragged the overladen pram outside where she emptied the contents on the edge of the pavement. 

And then back they trotted to the books. 

In the meantime the results of my degree arrived. The fog of anticlimax is overwhelming.


  1. First, Kathleen, this is an alarming and amazing story. I’m surprised we’ve not heard about this happening in the US. I wonder what will happen to this child who is cheered for evacuating in public?

    Second, can I assume this is good, albeit anticlimactic, news? And what exactly is the degree?

  2. shocking behaviour! i just wandered if we are really the last generation which appreciates manners.

  3. I think that poor child might be needing those self help books one day!

  4. I’m glad it wasn’t just me then…

    Pamela, my degree was a BA in Communication, and yes it was good news, I took a First and continue on to PhD…

    Helen – I quite agree, may I quote Mr Larkin?

    This Be The Verse

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

    • Congratulations! And I love this Larkin poem. It was one of my early blog posts.

  5. Congratulations Kathleen – wonderful news!

    God, that’s the stuff of nightmares! Can’t help but think the above ‘jack potty’ looks fun though (but not in Waterstones!).

  6. Fantastic. A chanced-upon reminder-of-a-poem that brightened my day in a perversely Larkin sort of way…

  7. Or conversely:

    This Be The Converse

    (by Richard Kell)

    They buck you up, your mum and dad,

    Or if they don’t they clearly should.

    No decent parents let the bad

    They’ve handed on defeat the good.

    Forebears you reckon daft old farts,

    Bucked up in their turn by a creed

    Whose homely mixture warmed their hearts,

    Were just the counsellors you need.

    Life is no continental shelf:

    It lifts and falls as mountains do.

    So, if you have some kids yourself,

    They could reach higher ground than you.

    Congratulations, though: let society decay as it may around you and carry on more cheerfully than Phil.

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