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I spot the blurry outline of one of the fathers from school walking down the road towards us. He is talking on his mobile phone and running his fingers through his thick dark hair in a gesture familiar to me from the previous school year. It's Sexy Domesticated Dad, with his disarming opinions about what constitutes a nutritional lunch box and a penchant for mothers' coffee mornings. But it's not those characteristics which fix him in my mind. It is the way he looks and the way he moves. Something much more primeval. In fact, the less he says, the greater his appeal.
Even from a distance I can recognise his shape. In that strange juxtaposition of random thoughts it suddenly occurs to me, that in appearing at this moment, he has inadvertently become part of the bigger picture. I curse my hastily thrown together second choice of outfit: tartan pyjama bottoms under a long grungy coat in what I'd hoped would pass for casual chic in underwear-as-outerwear fashion. But it's too late to hide in the hedge with my pint-sized sons, so I surreptitiously check for yesterday's un-removed eye make-up in the wing mirror of a stationary 4 by 4.
I jump as the automatic window slides down and someone looks over the passenger seat to ask what I am doing.
'My God, you look like a panda,' says Yummy Mummy No 1, my sartorial nemesis. She opens her glove compartment to reveal spa-like contents including a half bottle of Moet, Jo Malone candle, and eye make-up remover pads.
'How do you do this?' I ask her, wiping my eyes gratefully. 'Do you have systems?'
She looks puzzled, 'No, just staff,' she says.
'Good summer?' I ask her.
'Wonderful, Tuscany, Cornwall,how about you?'
'Great,' I reply, but she is already glancing down the road and tapping her fingers on the steering wheel.
'Must go or I'll be late for my astanga class. By the way, are you wearing tartan? How directional.'
Sexy Domesticated Dad ambles down the street towards me. I can see him waving one arm in the air and have no choice but to speak to him. Then I notice the other arm is in plaster. Oh happy fate, an obvious subject for conversation.
'You've broken your arm,' I say a little too enthusiastically.
'Yes,' he says. 'I fell off a ladder at a friend's house.' He looks at me expectantly.
Then he smiles and I hear myself say in an unnaturally slow voice. 'That must be really...relaxing.' Except I say it in a slow throaty way that makes me sound like Mariella Frostrup.
His smile fades slightly. This doesn't conform to the predictable pattern of social niceties among parents that he was expecting.
'What could possibly be relaxing about breaking your arm? Especially in Croatia.'
Sam looks at me, equally perplexed. 'He's right, mum.'
'Actually, Lucy, it's really...painful.' (Sexy Domesticated Dad is mimicking my intonation.) 'And I don't think that my wife would agree that it's relaxing. I'm not much use at the moment. Can't get any work done, it hurts too much to type.' He smiles.
Mention of his powerhouse wife brings me up short, because I have never considered him in the plural, and I arrange my features into friendly but businesslike mode.
'How is she, did she manage to unwind?'
'She's never very good at doing that, she's got too much energy. Look do you want to grab a coffee after you've dropped off the kids?'
'Great,' I say, trying to appear composed in the face of this unexpected incursion into my daydreams. Then I notice him looking suspiciously at my feet.
'Are you wearing tartan pyjamas under that coat?' he asks. 'Maybe we should do coffee another time.'