5am. Am woken by daughter #3 coughing. Lie there, staring at the ceiling in the half light, wondering anxiously why it is that she sounds like a Victorian child who has grown up in a damp workhouse and spent all her life climbing chimneys, when in fact she is a pampered product of twenty-first century comforts who spends her life lounging in front of the TV and combing the garden for ladybirds to keep in boxes. Conclude this must somehow reflect on my parenting, which reminds me of the imminent necessity of putting together three packed lunches. This in turn leads to gloomy musing on the eternal argument between the senior members of our household (me and Him) and the daughters, which can be summed up in two words: Cheese Strings.
5.30am. Gloomy musing interrupted by the alarm clock (which, being nothing like a real princess, I keep stuffed under my pillow) Get wearily out of bed and trail downstairs. Ruby is asleep on my laptop, and since I feel guilty enough already about being a terrible mother I do not turf her off, but instead switch the oven on and pull out sticky, flour-dusted copy of Nigella's Domestic Goddess book.
5.40am. Make tea.
5.50am. Make scones.
6am. Kitchen is filled, not with homely, comforting smell of baking, but foul, sour fug of last Saturday night's roast lamb from the disgustingly filthy oven. Sniffing disdainfully, Ruby rises from the laptop and takes herself fastidiously outside into glorious, damp morning for fresh air. Follow her, and am spellbound by utter perfection of the misty garden, complete with icing-sugar pink apple and cherry blossom, and exquisite, dew-frosted grass. Briefly consider going to wake the children up to share the magic (surely what a proper wholesome mother would do) but am able to imagine all too vividly the scorn with which this would be greeted by daughter #1, so desist. Go back into the kitchen for more cups of tea.
6.05am. Discover fug in kitchen to have thickened, due to blackened, burning scones.
6.10am. Make more scones.
6.25am. Take perfect, golden, unburned scones from oven. Experience moment of extreme satisfaction.
6.30am. Eat one scone, hot, with pools of melting butter.
6.33am. Eat another scone, with raspberry jam.
6.36am. Notice misshapen scone, which spoils beautiful WI style symmetry of batch. Eat it quickly, on its own.
6.38am. Experience moment of extreme guilt.
6.40am. Survey kitchen, taking in flour-strewn surfaces, chaos of bowls and wooden spoons lying greasily in the sink, spilt milk soaking into letter to be returned to school. Feel very tired. Wish I had stayed in bed.
7am. Am just finishing cleaning entire kitchen (though floor still suspiciously crunchy underfoot) when He appears, sniffs, and asks why I am cooking sausages. Retreat, with admirable dignity under the circumstances, preferring to let lovely plate of scones speak on my behalf.
8am. Offer lovely scone to daughter #1 for her lunchbox. She looks pained. 'No thanks. It's embarrassing. Can't you just buy cheese strings?'
8.15am Offer lovely scone to daughter #3. She accepts enthusiastically, and requests jam and butter to accompany it. Ask if she would also like smoked salmon sandwiches cut into tiny triangles and a china cup and saucer for her water, but discover irony is lost on her as she considers this matter carefully before politely declining. We turn our attention to the matter of a container for the butter, and an extremely depressing ten minutes ensue during which daughter #3 empties the entire contents of the cupboard where ex-ice cream tubs are pointlessly kept, virtually disappearing beneath a landslide of plastic lids and pots. Impossible to match anything up. Am still in pyjamas. Feel in need of vodka with breakfast, but am just drinking fourth pot of tea of the day when daughter #3 discovers large tub and lid that seem to belong together. Put small quantity of butter in the bottom and discover it won't fit into lunchbox.
8.55am. Drop children at school, and head to Sainsburys to replenish supplies of milk and flour depleted by the morning's double scone effort.
9.15am. Linger wistfully in front of cheese strings...