The mattresses were delivered a few blustery evenings ago. Stevanovich, my handsome male au pair, was at Ti Chi. I was having tea with the kids. It took a while to open the rain swollen front door. From the street, you can run at it and Thai kickbox it open. From inside, you have to pull and wriggle and wriggle and pull. Eventually it opened, and the John Lewis delivery men came sloshing in. The house, never tidy, was at its worst, the hallway piled high with muddy shoes, and some extraneous furniture (on its long journey to the loft) halfway up the stairs. What with the smell of burnt sausages and the general dank dinginess, it wasn’t exactly the kind of place you’d expect to deliver the Rolls Royce of mattresses to. The delivery men were quite surly. I was expecting them to be hugely helpful, coming as they did from John Lewis, and got very flustered when instead they told me I’d have to clear the furniture away, they were only there to carry mattresses, nothing else.
Fair enough, I suppose. I ran around, moving things out of their way and pulling the sheets off our beds, so that they could take away the old ones (I’d paid extra for them to be removed and recycled). As I took the kids’ sheets off, I noticed the pattern on their mattresses, orange and green, a kind of tartan. They’d come with the bunk beds. I fell into a reverie, remembering the excitement of the bunk beds delivery all those years ago.
“Ready?” barked one of the delivery men, and I stepped to one side, holding the sheets in a big bundle. I watched them carry the orange and green mattresses down the stairs, wondering if I dared ask them to put the new mattresses on the beds. I didn’t dare. I couldn’t wait for Stevanovich, that Ti Chi class goes on for hours, and the kids needed to go to bed. I hauled them on all by myself, with my amazing yogic shoulders, remade the beds and put the kids to bed.
When Stevanovich finally returned, we put the Rolls Royce of mattress on my bed, and I came to the devastating realisation – that it was too small! Not a kingsize at all, though that hardfaced woman in Clearance had assured me it was. S was disgusted. “This would not happen in my country,” he said, and went downstairs to watch the men’s moguls ad drink whisky. I wondered what to do. Too late, now, to phone John Lewis up. And no other mattress to sleep on, my old one having been removed. If I slept on this one, would I have to keep it?
In the morning I asked the kids what they thought of their Lamborgini and Bugatti mattresses. The elder one, who sleeps in the top bunk, was very positive, but the younger one just said forlornly, “It’s ok, I suppose”. Starting to regret the whole mattress-buying debacle, I asked Stevanovich to phone John Lewis. He was halfway through putting on his bike gear, and swore and groaned, but I pleaded, saying it would be good for his English. He’s a very assertive person, in any language I expect, and was much more likely to get a replacement mattress delivered that very day than I would be.
He started off belligerent, but fell silent quite quickly. The call was a long one, with S just nodding and frowning. With an uncharacteristically polite thank you he hung up, and carried on with his bike gear.
“Well?” I asked. He waved me away.
“No need worry. It will grow,” he said, his voice muffled, now, by the helmet.
“What, like a pot plat?”
“Yes, yes. Will be kingsize in two, three weeks.”
Swearing again, he yanked the front door open and was off, leaving me to mull the information over. Seemed a bit strange. I went and looked at the mattress to see if it had already started growing. What if it didn’t stop at kingsize, but kept on going, filling my whole bedroom.. the whole house?
That evening, putting the kids to bed, I asked the youngest what the problem was with his new mattress. He sighed. “It’s not my mattress, it’s that one,” he said, pointing up to where the upper bunk mattress was visible through the wooden slats. “It’s just, ever since I was little, I’ve had those orange and green lines to look at,” he said. “I look at them, and count them. That’s how I go to sleep.” Now all he had to look at was the whiteness of the new one.