The noise splashed over you as you entered, roaring, screaming, shrieking, and yelling. It was loud. It was relentless. It was the sound of one of those huge wherehouselike soft play areas and it was your first visit.
Oh you’ve been to similar places before, but nothing on this scale.
This was a four-story, small row of terraced housing length cage for padded ladders, ball pits, rope bridges and the occasional four lane bumpy slide. With a side order of dodgems and a whirligig fairground ride.
The Star took one look and tried to climb over the gate to get in rather than wait for it to be opened.
Now the Star is three and this was a very wet afternoon at the tail end of the school holidays so the place was heaving with children of all sizes and shapes, and you did suffer a qualm or two about just flinging him into the maelstrom and letting him get on with it.
The Star himself had no hesitation, so before you could quaver, ‘I’ll be over here, sweetie, if you need me,’ he was off, dragging his little friend behind him.
And that was it for the afternoon. He would pop up occasionally, sweat soaked and carrying another balloon, to sit with you and drink some water or have a banana*, but before long he would be off again and you would have to be content with such meager contact as tripping over him on your way to the ladies as he raced around a corner in the middle of a gang of small but very feral looking boys.
Anyway, after thee hours you had started to think that the noise levels weren’t that bad after all.
And then you left.
Given that it was on a road in the middle of London, next to a railway track, opposite a helipad and directly under the flight path to Heathrow, it was surprising how blessedly quiet the world suddenly seemed.
The Star rested quietly on your lap for the entire bus journey home. ‘That was my birthday!’ he said happily as you opened your front door.
Higher praise there is not.
And just to prove that you can have a birthday every day, you went back the next day. Well £17 is £17 and they had a special offer on where it was free tomorrow when you signed up for your first go.
You rather regretted it when just after you had arrived at Granny and Grandad’s a few days later he woke up coughing and coughing and coughing until he was sick though.
But it was fun at the time.
Your advice to anyone thinking of going is take earplugs, invest in disinfectant and burn their clothes afterwards.
*It turns out that you are not supposed to take your own food into such places but buy the incredibly expensive chips they have on offer there. Yeeeeeeeees.