Last week I got a letter from Maclaren, the manufacturers of the Britain's most fashionable prams. "When it comes to transport for Sasha, have you made your decision yet?" it asked. "If you would be interested in a Maclaren now or in the future, then please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to arrange a discount. You might be interested to know that Caudia Schiffer pushes a Maclaren Vogue!"
How dare they? I thought. Do I look like Tara Palmer-Tomkinson? Don't they realise that a journalist of my calibre would never dream of plugging a product in return for 10% off? If they want to me to mention one of their wretched prams in this column they're going to have to give me a 100% discount, at the very least.
Maclaren should take a leaf out of Bugaboo's book. Bugaboo is a Dutch pram company that offered me a completely free pushchair a full two months before Caroline gave birth. Not only that, but they sent over a beautiful Dutch girl called Bibi to demonstrate it for us. While putting it through its paces, Bibi let slip that among the company's loyal customers is none other than Claudia Schiffer. Clearly, the Teutonic supermodel has as many prams as she does shoes. She's the Imelda Marcos of motherhood.
I was so impressed by the Bugaboo--it looks like one of those Martian Rovers--I immediately called a pregnant friend of mine in New York and urged her to get one. Now this friend is the Fashion Director of a glossy magazine and had never heard of a Bugaboo before. In fact, she had her heart set on a Maclaren Vogue.
However, she did a quick bit of research on the Internet and came across the following entry on an "expecting parents" message board: "I have never been a jealous or envious person. And we've bought 2 wonderful strollers--a Zippy and a Martinelli--which I am sure will meet our needs wonderfully when the baby comes. AND YET all this talk about Bugaboos is really making me want one! I am sure people will post and say what a shallow, awful person I am, but I was just wondering if anyone else feels the same as I do?"
The answer, needless to say, is yes. Two weeks before Sasha was due, the New York Times Styles section devoted a front-page article to this season's must-have fashion accessory: "From Central Park West to Santa Monica's trendy Montana Avenue, the Bugaboo is the chariot of choice. Miranda has a Bugaboo on Sex and the City. Julianne Moore showed hers off to Barbara Walters. And Noah Wyle rarely leaves home without his. 'The Bugaboo's design surpasses anything that's out there,' said Mr. Wyle, the star of E.R. who has a 9-month-old named Owen. 'I mean, have you seen the shocks on this thing?'"
After the baby was born I couldn't wait to take her out for a stroll in my brand new Sports Utility Pram. Admittedly, it was unlikely to cause much of a stir in Shepherd's Bush, but if I could just wheel her as far as Westbourne Grove I'd be certain to attract some envious glances. After Caroline gave me the green light, I dug my Allen key out of my toolbox, dropped to my knees and started to assemble my new toy.
Two-and-a-half hours later I still hadn't left the room. By this time, I'd already rung the Bugaboo helpline twice and watched the instructional DVD three times. It was harder to figure out than a Rubik's Cube. Admittedly, assembling a piece of IKEA flat pack furniture is an afternoon's work for me, but the Bugaboo was completely beyond my powers. Perhaps if I had a doctorate in structural engineering I might have fared a little better. As it was, I would be unable to follow the example set by Julianne Moore, Noah Wyle and Claudia Schiffer.
In the end, we were reduced to begging Caroline's parents to let us have the rusty old baby carriage that has been lying in a corner of their garage in Suffolk for the last twenty-five years. It does the job--just--but I don't anticipate it being the subject of a front-page article in the New York Times Styles section any time soon.