Of the many things I am good at, tact and subtlety are not among them. They never have been. When I was about fourteen, my schoolfriend Hazel challenged me to try to be subtle for a whole day. Easy peasy. Except, when I did something particularly subtle (or rather didn't do something unsubtle) I would inevitably feel the need to point it out to her, thus - apparently - negating the subtlety. Hazel's rules are harsh.
So, one of the reasons for my recent Plog absence is we have been on holiday. And because we are now "of a certain age", we chose to go on a cruise. We had never been on a cruise before. We chose the ship we sailed on because it had fantastic children's facilities, including a playroom. This playroom became pretty much where we - and every other parent with an under-two year-old - spent our entire holiday.
So, despite there being 3000 passengers on board, we bumped into the same people over and over again. This can be a problem when you lack subtlety or tact.
The toddler has been playing with the same girl for a little while. Let's call her Lottie. I decide to give Lottie's mum a compliment about Lottie. What parent doesn't like to hear their children praised? And let's pay a thoughtful compliment about her character, rather than how she looks.
"I've noticed Lottie is really independent," I say. "She's really happy to play by herself while other children are playing elsewhere."
"Yes," replied her mum. "She had her two-year checks recently and she's going to have further tests on that. They think she might be autistic."
Oops. Never mind.
We see a parent - let's call him Jake - in the pool with his child. No problem here until...
Jake is in the playroom. I introduce myself (as it turns out, for the second time). TheBloke (TM) points out we've already met.
"Oh yes," I said. "Sorry, I didn't recognise you with your clothes on."
There is awkward silence.
Apparently this is not an appropriate thing to say to a toddler's father whilst his wife is in the room.
Still, never mind. Things with Jake can only get better, surely?
Jake is in the playroom with his toddler again. This time I recognise him. Lottie's mother is also there and we are talking about Peppa Pig. We all love Peppa Pig. If I'm honest, we're actually quoting our favourite bits to each other. Jake likes Peppa Pig too. We talk about how it doesn't talk down to children, and is actually genuinely funny.
Talk turns to CBeebies.
"What do you think of Dinopaws?" Jake asks us.
Before TheBloke (TM) can answer, I reply, "I loathe Dinopaws. I absolutely hate it. I can't abide how it uses incorrect language like 'more biggerer'. The toddler hates it too. She cries when it comes on."
Jake takes a breath. "It's just... I worked on that show."
Oh shit. Time to backpedal.
"Well, I mean, the animation is very good... and the voices are fine. It's just the script. So long as you're not one of the script writers... ha ha ha..."
"I am a script writer."
Day five, six and seven
I let TheBloke (TM) mostly take over playroom duties. I focus my attentions on not speaking to anyone.
I am beginning to wonder if 2014 is going to be the year I offend multiple people connected with CBeebies programmes.
Perhaps I should refrain from expressing opinions altogether. Next Plog: Staring impassively out of a window.