Picture the scene.
A busy Wetherspoon’s, the second busiest place in Brighouse – the first being the British Heart Foundation shop which seems to be the place to go if you’re passing through Brighouse in a morning, it was heaving. Anyway, you’re in Wetherspoon’s, you’ve ordered breakfast – large – and you’re waiting for it to arrive.
As you’re sitting, in your booth (I know, swish), chatting about this, that and the other with your beloved in strolls two woman – one young, one older – and two kids. Now the women are clearly mother and daughter and the children belong to the daughter. You can work all that out fairly quickly. So they come in, and as they do so the baby in the pram – the youngest of the two children – starts to cry. You can understand why – there’s not really a lot that a Wetherspoon’s offers the very small child. Even the colouring in and the kids menu is aimed a bit above them.
So the baby cries a bit, and then Grandma gets the baby out and starts walking round with it – effectively spreading the joy of the wailing child to all and sundry. She eventually sits down, and lies the baby down on the table. The baby then starts crying, presumably thinking it is going to be sacrificed or something. It cries and cries and cries. The mother starts to shake up a bottle of milk – this is the first time she’s shown any sort of interest in the wailing child – and hands the milk to the grandma. The grandma presents the milk to the child and the child falls silent.
At that precise moment I went “Ahhhhh.” Not “Ahhhh” as in “isn’t that a cute child” but “Ahhhh” as in “oh the noise has stopped, huzzah.”
Now, I “Ahhh”‘d quite loudly, not on purpose but I was genuinely that relieved that the crying had stopped.
At this point the grandma clutches the baby to her and starts asking round the pub, “Does anyone object to the baby being here?” but in quite an accusatory tone. A kind of “how dare you imply that the sound of a crying baby is not all sweetness and light.”
Now, for the most part everyone ignored her. Eventually two people went, “Sorry? Are you asking us?” She wasn’t. She was asking everyone. No-one answered her. She continued to ask and threw in the line, “I ask because some people are being quite mean about the baby.”
Did she mean me? Was I being mean? Was my – admittedly slightly louder than planned – “Ahhh” really mean? Is it wrong to enjoy the moment of silence when a baby stops crying? Is it? I’ve ridden on enough buses to know that as soon as the mother with the screaming child gets off the bus there is a collective “Ahhhh” from every remaining passenger. Should she actually get back on, wave the baby about and ask if everyone is happy with the baby being there?