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I know how Cameron feels -- I've lost my kids on beaches and in shops

POOR old David Cameron. He must be mortified. After a nice, reportedly slightly boozy Sunday lunch in his local pub with friends and a gaggle of kids, he and wife Sam left in separate cars, he with his protection detail in the posh car and her in the jalopy.

They each thought the other had daughter Nancy (8), who ended up being left behind. They discovered the missing link after arriving back at Chequers two miles away.

You can imagine a lively exchange followed.

They returned, red faced, to find the child perfectly happy in the pub's loo. Staff were minding her, while hiding their smirks, one assumes.


Now, the guy's getting stick from everyone. "If he can't remember where his own child is, how's he supposed to remember the national debt, or how many teachers there are, or when budget day is?"

But haven't we all done it at one stage or another? You might have blocked out the memory, the embarrassment or fear proving too much for you to remember.

But if you have more than one child, I guarantee you've done it too.

I remember losing a child on Brittas Bay. He was about three, so the blind panic set in the minute I realised. The day had started well, with the optimistic notion we would head to the beach on an uncommonly warm day.

Naturally, any ad hoc intrepid adventure with kids takes at least 48 hours to organise and at least one other adult. But there I was, juggling beach balls, bags, towels, flasks, sandwiches, buckets and spades.

When I turned around, he had vanished. It led to a diverting 20 minutes with me screeching his name after dumping the eldest (all of 6) with a kindly looking elderly couple who, for all I knew, could well have been Fred and Rosemary West.

I ran and searched, repeating under my breath the mantra, "He's afraid of water".

And so it proved. He had run after someone who was evidently a better mother and her fun looking kids and was happily digging a hole in the sand a few feet away.

Another time I lost them both in Superquinn. To be honest, that wasn't so much losing them as leaving them to get fed. They wandered around those tester stalls gorging on anything from the latest jam, olives, cheese and crackers and whatever else they could find with the unlikely promise that "mum will buy it if we like it".

On another occasion, we left one behind in the house. Clearly unperturbed by his beach adventure, he had set all the taps running in the downstairs loo and in a startlingly short time had flooded the entire hallway.

A lively discussion ensued with divorce promised in the not too distant future, once we had agreed our stories for the insurance company.

Children are desperately wriggly. They're energetic, fearless and have an alarmingly short attention span. Stuff happens -- it's part of family life.


Unfortunately, David 'Call Me Dave' Cameron has to have the 'perfect family'. Sam goes to all that trouble not to look expensively dressed despite having earned millions in her own right.

They keep the children out of the public eye and cultivate a one-with-the-great-unwashed persona. But actually, this incident has shown they're more like ordinary people than they tried so hard to be.

So next time you 'lose' a child, take heart. They always know where they are, it's just you who don't.

Oh, and they do come back.