I’ve always been partial to a bit of routine. Creature of habit. Follower of regular patterns. Some would say boring; I prefer organised, disciplined, focused.
Sundays always provide a perfect example, as the two women who work in the Southport Boots photo department could testify. Every week – with the odd exception when I repeat the routine but in Manchester or Liverpool if we are living on the edge – I make the short trip into Southport, park the car in one of the side streets off Lord Street near the market. I cross Eastbank Street and walk up to Boots with iPhone in pocket. Usually I have my earphones in, blocking out the street noise – today with my favourite radio companions; the Test Match Special team.
I am doing my weekly run to print photos for Miss J to take to nursery. On a Monday she talks her key person – the nursery team member who she has chosen to look after her – and her classmates – through her weekend using the photographs as a aide memoir. This weekly photo printing routine is so important to us because the photos have really helped Aoife with her confidence in telling the story to her nursery friends. She loves the process of picking the photos to print, examining the printed versions from their shiny blue wallet and then packing them in one of her three schoolbags; Disney Princesses, Frozen or Peppa Pig!
She loves even more the excitement of the big reveal on a Monday morning and the discussion with her little friends as she talks through the weekend’s endeavours. The feedback from the nursery team is how her face lights up and how this simple prop has really helped her speak with more confidence and authority. Fantastic. It is the simplest things in life that often bring the biggest rewards.
Each week as I emerge from the rising escalator one of the two women who staff the photo counter look up and see me coming towards them – they recognise the routine that is about to unfold. We usually exchange some pleasantries – they know all about the Monday morning nursery excitement and the reason for my weekly visit. Sometimes they give me a knowing smile, which – in moments of self indulgence – makes me proud.
When we started this routine over six months ago we didn’t think ahead to imagine we would still be so committed to it but we are – we have never missed a week – it has become something that rather than a chore is something I look forward to doing – not for the process of printing the photos but of seeing her face when I get home and imagining her face the next morning when doing her “show and tell”.
We would do anything from our little person so a weekly drive to Southport is nothing to ask. Not for this creature of habit – this wannabe David Bailey!