What?: Let’s just clear this up before I begin: this is not Cliffs Notes. I am by no means going to be rehashing our seminar theme by theme and word by word. This isn’t like your first year of uni where you got your more together friend to take notes for you because you were too hungover to make it to your 10.30am lecture. I am not your more together friend. If anything I’m probably your less together friend. That said I did manage to make it to this particular 10.30am lecture, and while I was a bit too preoccupied by waddling around after my hyper-mobile minibeast to pay much attention to the subject matter, I can comment on things like ambience and croissant quality – and really does anything else actually matter when you think about it?
We got to the venue at 10.30 on the dot like massive keenos, which was our first mistake as we were the first ones there and the talk didn’t actually get going for at least another 30 minutes – meaning a completely unnecessary half hour of disaster prevention. On arrival we were warmly greeted by the very friendly organisers and told to take a seat, as if sitting is something we do. I was also asked to think of three words to describe myself and write on a sticker along with my name. I settled on “Emmy – Writer Cats Fashion” and then Bab scribbled all over it, presumably because she thought that made me sound like a massive dickhead. We then went to collect our breakfast and had a lovely awkward moment when I thought one of the other mums was an event organiser who was handing out coffee and basically demanded she gave me her croissant – which she did and which I ate and which was delicious.
Our lecture on London: Inequality and the City was given by Fran Tonkiss, Professor of Sociology at LSE, and lasted around 20 minutes before she opened the floor to questions. Again, bear in mind that while this was happening I was on rigorous damage-limitation duty, shadowing my toddler – one of only two in a sea of static babies – while she staggered around the pub attempting to snog everything with a pulse and smash anything made of glass like it was one of those nights out where your mate gets off her face before you’ve even achieved mild tipsiness and you get stuck looking after her for the duration of the evening. I didn’t catch much of the lecture or the questions, nor was I expecting to, but what I did catch was this: a confirmation that it’s ok to want to talk about stuff other than your baby, even when they’re sitting on your crotch/attached to your nipple; a sense that there is life beyond parenthood, even when you hadn’t planned anything past the next nappy change; and relief that, as parents of infants, there are places where we can just be ourselves and not “Mummy” for five bloody minutes.
I was also very grateful that nobody judged me for bringing a very active toddler along to something ostensibly aimed at people with young babies. I actually emailed the organiser before the event and told her I mostly wanted to come so that I could write a review but that my child was basically an extremely small and frustrated adult woman, and she was so great and positive about it when she could very easily have told me not to be so ludicrous.
Where and When?: To date this New York-based organisation has held just two London events, in June and August 2017, both in the morning and both at The White Bear in Kennington – just a five-minute walk from Kennington tube (Northern).
Best Bits: Stimulating, expert-led talks on a variety of subjects (past topics have ranged from politics and coding to fashion and flower arranging). It was absolute heaven to be in the company of a bunch of mums (and a couple of dads) with babies, not actually talking about babies.
Worst Bits: Obviously you’ll get much more out of the seminar with a stationary baby, but I love that they made us welcome anyway.
Facilities: Baby changing, buggy parking, play mats and communal toys, coffee and croissants included in ticket price.
Cost: £10 per adult.
Would We Come Back?: Probably not: while we had a wonderful morning and I thoroughly recommend Mindr for those with under-ones (and pre-crawlers in particular), sadly Bab has gone somewhat beyond the realm of sitting still.
Mummy and Bab play at a Mindr event at The White Bear, Kennington. Photo credit: Anna Johnson.