I've just rolled in from another action-packed soft play session with Miss O, and realised that it’s all feeling rather familiar; the sticky floors, the dated tunes blaring out at a volume that makes your ears bleed, that faint whiff of vomit…
Here’s why soft play is a lot like going clubbing:
- The name of the place is usually a bit off the wall and hints at the carnage that will ensue inside; Pandemonium, Kidzmania, Berserk – my absolute favourite is the unwittingly evocative Ding Dong Fun Bus, which sounds more like something The Chippendales would tour on.
- It’s massively overpriced – an extortionate entry fee, luke-warm drinks; but they have you over a barrel because nowhere else is open at this ungodly hour!
- It’s wall-to-wall sweaty people – 50% of whom look like they’d rather be literally anywhere else right now.
- Someone’s definitely pissed all over the toilet floor.
- You can spot the birthday crew a mile off – they’re hogging all the tables, incredibly over-excited, and at least one of them is wearing a Superhero costume.
- There’s a girl openly sobbing in the corner because she’s fallen out with all her mates.
- In the opposite corner, there’s a lad who’s already sleeping it off, despite the fact that he only walked in 30 minutes ago. Before you know it he’ll be throwing up in the loos and staggering about the place on his second wind.
- You’ll hugely overestimate how steady you are on your feet, and invariably end up falling on your arse and trying not to cry.
- There’s always that one guy making a complete prat of himself and ruining it for everyone else (this week it happened to be my husband, who forgot that he was by far the heaviest occupant of the bouncy castle zone and bounced a little TOO enthusiastically; the whole thing dipped and about 20 kids hit the deck and rolled into him)
- An hour or so in, you’re really keen to go, but the person you came with keeps running off and absolutely refuses to leave because they’re having “THE BEST TIME EVERRRRRR!”
- You finally escape; bruised, bedraggled and absolutely knackered, vowing never to cross the threshold again (whilst knowing you’ll almost certainly be back next week)