Anoushka, or Noushi Noo-Noo as her Mummy and Daddy called her, appeared to be a perfectly cherubic little girl. Her white-gold hair and enormous blue eyes disguised her shrewd and criminal cunning at gaining the upper hand. Noushi's Mummy, Claudia, was so thrilled to have a little angel who could be dolled up in smocked dresses and leggings with Mary-Jane shoes, mostly in pink. Claudia was a regular customer at at the Vintage Living fair held in Little Bunting and little Noushi was always by her side, causing untold havoc. But recently, things had rather changed and Noushi's nose was very much out of joint. A new arrival, a chubby little boy named Alfie, was taking up rather a lot of Mummy's time and attention. Noushi was not taken in by her parents' assurances that Alfie was going to be her "dear little friend" or that she was going to be "a very special big sister".
Claudia was so keen to trawl for vintage bargains, that rather unwisely she decided to take Noushi and Alfie along with her to the Vintage Living fair. Her husband, Seb, was far too busy with his "work" to be looking after his offspring, despite his affectations as a New Man and thus, totally at one with changing nappies, bottle feeding and general toddler wrangling. Noo-Noo was wrestled into the giant Landrover styled double pushchair - designed to go across Arctic tundra and tropical rainforest - neither of which were very prevalent in Little Bunting. She demanded the front seat, her body an unyielding plank, until her Mummy caved in to her superior will. Alfie was transported in a fashionable "BabyHammock" splayed across Claudia's chest like a tiny koala. Having loaded up with baby changing kit, spare clothes, toys and snacks, Claudia walked from her charming cottage, to Little Bunting village hall, home of the Vintage Living fair. Other mummies would join her en route, similarly laden like Sherpas on an Everest expedition.
Upon their arrival at the hall, Claudia exhorted Noushi "not to touch anything, darling" - this fell on deaf ears, as Noushi touched exactly what she wanted with no restraint. The heavy pram steered perilously through the throng of chattering ladies and narrow walkways lined with wonky furniture, heavy garden ornaments and towers of textiles. Progress was snail-like, often further complicated by some mummies coming the other way causing a gridlock amongst the stalls. Meantime, Noushi had a lovely time and played with all the pretty things within reach of her sticky, chubby yet deft fingers. A cornucopia of knick-knacks were picked up and tucked into the pushchair seat or simply dropped on the floor, when Noushi became bored. Claudia was blind to the chaos under her nose, as she bathed in the adulation paid to her firstborn son. "Oh what a dear little man" and "He's a proper little boy" as the stallholders competed to pay Alfie the most inane compliment of the day.
Baby Alfie, oblivious to his surroundings and admiring public, howled like a coyote having spotted a shiny red toy train amongst the piles of bric-a-brac. Of course, the toy was totally unsuitable for a babe in arms, coated in a livery of lead paint and designed with ferocious metal corners perfect for serious injury. As he wriggled and yelped, Alfie was carried out by Claudia, leaving the mammoth puschair blocking all pedestrian access. This abandonment was the cue for Noushi to behave really badly, when she realised that at last she was free of her Mummy's control. Unbeknownst to Claudia, Noushi released herself from the pushchair harness and began her Reign of Terror.
Noushi and her "best friend at nursery", Tilly, played a lovely game of Racing around the Hall slipping, sliding and skating on the well-polished floorboards. The girls' excitement and volume of shrieks spiralled, with the perils of toppling tables, crashing chairs and cascades of stock adding a new element to the game. Stallholders scowled at the uncontrolled antics of the two little hoodlums, muttering "breakages MUST be paid for" to one another in a glow of self-righteousness.
Eventually, Claudia returned with a pacified Alfie and at last halted the mayhem. "Darlings, please stop - let's go and have a lovely cake". Noushi and Tilly were easily bought off as long as their demands for a "big piece of choccy cake" were met. Alfie avidly sucked down his milk, which he then promptly sicked up all over Claudia's handmade linen frockcoat. Claudia recognised defeat and decided to make for home, but not before a further battle was enacted with a defiant Noushi who had set her sights on an old and battered bunny rabbit toy. "But I really wa-aa-aa-aa-nntt it", Noushi sobbed, gearing up to have an epic tantrum. Having paid £20 for the tatty object, Claudia finally dragged Noushi away with precious bunny toy in her iron grasp.
Once they had departed, the hall was at last restored to a picture of calm and decorum. Only at the end of the day was there further drama, when several stallholders realised that a number of tiny objects were no longer in their keeping. Back at the cottage, Claudia discovered the extent of Noushi's kleptomania when she found a cache of small items secreted in the pushchair linings. Claudia's account of her visit to the fair fell on unsympathetic ears as Seb fiddled with his tablet and mobile simultatneously. His helpful suggestion "Darling, next time get Granny to go with you" was rewarded by the sight of Claudia storming out of the house with the car keys, finally leaving him in sole charge of his by now rather smelly son and heir and a grizzling Noushi.