A few nights ago the Football Fanatic went out to her other job at the Manchester United television station. After the show, she and the girl she works with were going for a drink in town. Fine. See you later.
At 9 o'clock I got this text from her:
battery going fone
on way home
Normally, when she gets in a taxi she rings and talks to me all the way home. Obviously she was letting me know she was in the taxi, but couldn't ring with a low battery.
At quarter to ten she hadn't arrived. Since it it a fifteen minute journey from town in a taxi, I assumed that she must have decided to get the bus instead. I checked the bus times. There was one at twenty past nine, so if she had got it, she would be home any minute. At ten o'clock she still wasn't home. I checked the bus times again. The next one was at five past ten, which would get her home at half past. There was nothing else for it, but to wait till half past ten. And pray.
Half past ten came and went. It was an hour and a half since she had sent the message. Now, I know you have all come to realise that the Football Fanatic is somewhat of a dizzy blonde, BUT, I have to hand it to her, if she is ever delayed, or misses a bus, or is going to be home later than she said she would, she always lets me know.
At quarter to eleven I started making deals with God. By eleven o'clock, I was thinking about selling my soul to the devil. Then I started thinking that sooner or later I would have to do something. Like ringing round hospitals.
And then I found the number of the girl she had gone out with. I was in too much of a state by this time to speak to her, so I sent her a text:
Hi, it's FF's mum. Are you still out?
No, I'm home in bed. Is everything all right?
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I swear I'll never do another thing wrong in my whole life if you'll just let her be safe and come home..........
I texted back:
No. FF's not arrived home.
She stayed behind with the others to watch extra time in the Chelsea match. Try this number.....and don't worry. She'll be okay.
Isn't it strange how quickly 'please just let her be safe' can turn into 'I'll kill her!'?
I rang the number I'd been given, still shaking, not caring how much embarrassment it was going to cause her having her mum ring her on someone else's phone.....there was a bit of scuffling about and laughing....and then....'Mum? What's the matter? Has something happened?'
Thank you God. It's my little girl. She's safe.
I think I cried. I managed to ask why she'd sent a text two and a half hours ago saying she was on the way home. And then she explained. You see, it's all in the punctuation. And texting teenagers have no use for punctuation. Just let them wait till they've got children. THEN they'll use full stops.
What the text should have said was:
battery going. fone on way home.
Which does put a slightly different slant on it, doesn't it?
And if you're still not convinced about the value of punctuation, try this one:
'A woman without her man is nothing'
or, put another way:
'A woman, without her, man is nothing'.