My what a week so far! Put away the fake tan for the weekend – King Don is allowing us to bask in his orange glow from today; yesterday my British friend who works in Croatia was put in the most compromising diplomatic position since the PM had an involuntary Spring Clean of her Cabinet on Monday; and that particular Spring Clean, I suspect caused more excitement in the Strictly recruitment team than when someone said “why don’t we put Ann in a harness, attach her to a wire and propel her onto the stage?”
Whilst the people who are supposed to be governing us are more interested in power than governing, some proper people who live in the real world have been doing some actual work. The young boys and their coach trapped in a cave have been saved by a team of people the majority of whose names will probably never be known to us, except that of the man who sacrificed his life; Saman Gunan. The English men’s football team and their manager have excelled themselves in both skill and spirit, to the nation’s pride and delight. And my eldest Childerbeast, in preparing for their last week of Primary School and born to a mother who would rather hide under a duvet than even draw a raffle in public, was in the school play; they were pirates.
If you’re a parent you’ll know the drill : the audience filed into the hall and sat, sweating in a confined space on a hot day, just as they have done every year for the past seven years. They admired the programmes made by the children, spotted their own child’s name, spotted the names of their child’s friends and then proceeded to fan themselves with the programme. The Head was legally obliged to tell us that should there be a fire (she’s a one for Cuban cigars in the school veg patch when she thinks no one’s looking) that we were all to run like hell towards the door…..Forty plus children then came onto the stage and burst into song. I love primary school children singing. It’s about the only time in life that people are not self-conscious about themselves or their voices, and they just sing. And it always sounds lovely.
The children had learnt all of the songs and their lines by heart. They all had different costumes, which I can attest, had driven each and every one of their parents’ completely mad in their creation. They enjoyed the fight scenes far too much, particularly the child who had got someone in a fake head lock and was pretending to punch their wriggling captive in the stomach. I think that it tells you everything you need to know about the school that out of everyone encumbered by wooden legs, parrots, beards, scarves, hats, mouse ears (yes, there were mice), whiskers and pieces of eight, that it was their teacher who had the most flamboyant costume of all; thigh high boots, puffball skirt and the most elaborate red hat I may have ever seen – Man of the House said it was worth the donation to school funds alone.
Now you might not consider a school play to be important work compared to the rescue of the young boys in Thailand. I agree. There are degrees of importance and thankfully no one’s life was at risk on Treasure Island last night. But children who may find reading difficult had read the script and learnt all of their lines and all of their songs – all of them. It taught all of the children about words, and music, and tone and timing and about a million other things that they didn’t know they were learning about. And when someone forgot their line, a friend quietly prompted them. Children who find it hard to stand up in front of people, stood up in front of people. Children who don’t find it so hard stood next to those who did and supported them. And finally, red-faced and sweaty, they all gathered for a group photograph to go in their year book.
Not that the last seven years have been plain sailing. There has been a lot of angst. Friendships move and change. Refusal to do homework. General cursing of the homework. Stropping. Growing. Dear lord above there has been so much growing. Eating. Never ending amounts of eating. And I am well aware that the door slamming is only going to get worse. But I know that fundamentally, my Childerbeast is at school with good people and there is a security in that which is about to be taken away.
Because this is the end. Probably of childhood, and inevitably of innocence. And I, and the other mothers are closing our eyes and counting to ten. Or twenty. Because it only seems like five minutes since they were babes in arms and the time has gone too quickly. We don’t want to send them into the world just yet…….Ever. We know that the world is governed by people more interested in promoting themselves and their own interests and run on a day to day basis by those doing proper, necessary and often unglamorous (pirate costumes aside) work and it seems that never the twain shall meet. So do we teach our children to beat the first lot or join them? Beat them, I say. Kill them with kindness. A cannon from Treasure Island could be swiftly relocated to the Strictly studios. So when they and their disgraceful self-interested behaviour are finally vanquished, instead of waterboarding which some of them seem inexplicably fond of, we and our kind shall dress them in sequins, stick them into a cannon and in a poof of glitter, fire them onto a dancefloor.