Up in the air

This morning I woke feeling dreadful, probably a combination of the bottle of beer I drank last night and the poor air quality. I got moving as fast as I could and rushed to the studio, to shoot another episode of my cooking show and wear a terrible shirt that I bought 17 years ago. I’ve lost the green velvet trousers that I purchased at the same time; probably not such a bad thing. After a couple of hours we had the necessary footage in the bag, and we went our separate ways.

The air quality had improved to "bad" which meant some poor sods were back to working outside in the haze, whereas I was only expressing solidarity by eating cheese that had been smoked, rather than smoking my lungs. The smoked cheese, combining as it does the twin virtues of artery-clogging fat and carcinogens, should have tasted better than it did, so, slightly disappointed, we went out to buy a car seat for our impending child.

We went to the Baby Hypermarket, which sounded like it would be an incredible building full of infant-related paraphernalia, but turned out to be a rather scruffy unit in an industrial park. However, given they sell things like sterilisers and car seats and strollers for reasonable prices, rather than the insanely inflated amounts in the posh areas of Singapore that serve expatriates, I can forgive a certain lack of presentation.

The strangest part was buying the car seat itself. They had a lot of 2012 models, functionally indistinguishable from the 2013 ones, except slightly cheaper. We chose the colour we liked, but then were told we couldn’t have that one because there weren’t any more in stock. So we said we’d take the showroom one, and after breaking through the utter confusion on the face of the shop assistant, we got a price roughly two-thirds that of the same thing in a mall on Orchard Road.

But before buying it, we went a few doors down, past a motorcycle shop and into Baby Kingdom, a second, also fairly nondescript baby warehouse, but staffed by cheerful and friendly people who asked us what we wanted, rather than be shocked that we had come to buy something. Sadly, though they had everything else we wanted, they didn’t have a car seat, so we went back to the Baby Hypermarket to find the car seat had lost another $30 from its price. What madness was this?

I wasn’t going to complain; I was tempted to hang around for an hour and see if it carried on getting cheaper, but I knew better than to tempt fate and in any case I had a Dortmunder novel to read, so we took a taxi home. It was probably a little odd for our driver, to transport two people and an empty car seat. I was tempted to pretend that we’d forgotten our child, but it’s best not to tease Singaporeans.

So now we have a car seat, a sterilising machine, bibs and several thermometers. One technological breakthrough caught my eye, although we didn’t buy it. It’s a wireless internet-enabled baby thermometer, complete with an app so you can check your baby’s temperature on your iPhone while you’re at the office and baby is far away. I’m not quite sure of the target market for this, but I suppose it’s people who are obsessed by their children but don’t want to spend time with them when they could be at work instead. I wonder what other childrearing gadgets could be enabled for remote control – Bluetooth nappies, perhaps, or being able to surveil your offspring via webcams.

Plus the remote thermometer was $200, and we might have just saved that on the car seat, but I think I deserve toys just as much as something that can’t even speak for the next year.

We went home and played Arkham Horror, like any child-obsessed parents would. This is a fiendishly complicated and longwinded game, which we managed to lose in three turns, which is probably something of a record; I think the time we spent playing was a tiny fraction of the time it took to set it up, so we had a second go and that time our characters, a thuggish PI who was rubbish at fighting, and a slight nun who was a dab hand with dynamite, managed to save the world from tentacled horrors, which is a nice way to end the day on a productive note.

And the pollution index is down to "unhealthy" from "poisonous", which was apparently good enough news for Singapore to celebrate with fireworks. I don’t have the heart to point out that detonating gunpowder might be adding to the amount of pollution in the air…


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