There are a few things in life that drive fear and dread into my wearisome ventricles and make me want to grab my passport and head to Mexico to live out my days drinking tequila, whilst strumming a banjo. The first is going to Tesco's on a Saturday, next is the smear test (ugh!!) and top of the list is SOFT PLAY.
For those with you without kids, let me just explain what soft play is:
Soft play is the beginning of the END of the world.
You know the film '28 Days Later' about savage monkeys that are infected with the 'Rage' virus?
Well, these mental monkeys are locked up in a laboratory and then they break free and bite a scientist who becomes 'Infected'. He instantly develops the symptoms of RAGE and bites another fella and spreads the virus. The entire population of the world soon becomes infected and the world becomes overrun with savage, rage-fuelled zombies.
Soft play is EXACTLY like that, only the threat isn't monkeys, its kids. Savage, brutal, enraged kids. However, it's much worse than the laboratory because they aren't incarcerated, they are free and swing viciously above you whilst you cower with fear under a sea of plastic coloured balls in the ball pool.
It's brutal. It's terrifying. Risk of infection is HIGH.
Just being in the building is enough to get infected, no bite is required. Everything around you is designed to torture your senses. Within moments of being exposed to Soft Play, the following symptoms are likely to develop:
1. Dizziness and Shock.
Psychedelic coloured slides, climbing frames and ball pools penetrate the eye sockets and make you feel startled and then light headed.
2. Severe Migraines
The shrill screaming of hysterical toddlers pierces the eardrums and causes tormenting headaches.
3. Loss of speech
The 'Coffee' strips your tongue of it's taste buds and affects your ability to speak coherently.
The air is thick with the pungent stink of feet, chips and soiled nappies and causes waves of crippling nausea.
Everything you touch is coated in a sticky film of old snot and dribble which adheres to your fingertips causing the loss of sensation in your hands. If you make the mistake of walking around barefoot, the same will happen to your feet.
Alongside battling all of these debilitating symptoms, you are responsible for the safety and well being of the 'Monkey' that you arrived with and you have a duty to protect him from the severe danger that surrounds him. Inevitably, he will decide to break loose and vanish into the giant climbing frame, thus forcing you to contort yourself into obscene positions to navigate your way through the frame to rescue him from being bludgeoned by several other monkeys.
For those of us who were picked last in gym at school, this is no easy feat.
Once you have contorted yourself into a ball, squeezed through eight tiny holes in the netting and swum through a sea of coloured balls, you make your way to the top of the climbing frame only to realise that there's only one way down:
So, faced with NO choice and desperate to escape the pack of hysterical monkeys swinging towards you, you grab your monkey, hold your breath and take the plunge down the mighty slope towards your salvation.
You sigh when you reach the bottom, relieved that you have escaped an acute back spasm, and then pull yourself off the floor onto your trembling pins. Your hair is dishevelled, you have aggressive heart palpitations, you're soaked in sweat and your ass has fallen out of the back of your jeans.
This is another symptom of soft play....
ALL of your senses are attacked and your identity, your pride, your self esteem are ripped away, dehumanising you.
Once you are infected, you've had it.
28 soft plays later and what will you become?
A enraged zombie.
We need to shut these places down. It's not Ebola that will destroy mankind. It's SOFT PLAY.