Decking in the Halls
Sunday, 29 November 2009
Rose's class had made mobiles from driftwood; some were beautiful and ethereal - silvered slivers and beach glass blew delicately in the wind; others, clearly demonstrating the end of their concentration, were bunged-together lumps of feathers, cork and rubber pipes. The mummy-in-charge, an Artist, had given them all winsome names - 'songbird', 'whistle down the wind', 'glasshouse' and hung pretentious brown paper labels off them. The children were completely pissed off - 'She says they're Works of Art now, it's all RUINED.' Other parents were mutinous that she had tagged them far out of the agreed pocket money range of £1.50, asking up to £20.00 for some. One mummy confronted her - 'It's not bloody Dragon's Den, you know.' The Artist pulled silently on the end of her long plait and refused to budge. Excellent.
Freddie's class were less precious - they were flogging sticky labels. You gave them your name, they printed out a miss-spelled bit of plastic, you offered them a fiver as you had no change, they promised to find you with your change later on and pocketed your fiver. They made a bloody fortune. They were off their faces on a wagon-load of sweets, and for a dare all the lads got their fingernails painted navy. They'll be a bit green-and-pale-at-what-you-did-so-freely once the sugar high has gone - they're all in a football match against a rough school in the morning.
The Dads gathered on weeny chairs downstairs with jugs of mulled wine. The mic broke and nobody heard Santa arrive. A monsoon put paid to the art display in the courtyard. The Senior School Head won the raffle and wouldn't give up the decent bottle of Scotch he scored. Some big boys crashed Santa's Grotto in the downstairs cloakroom and were chased by furious teachers in small green skirts and elf hats. The Dads heckled the elves and then gave them mulled wine. A foxy unmarried teacher who'd left under a cloud turned up with her brand new baby. She was mobbed by the children and tutted at by the mummies.
It took me forty minutes and forty pounds in unsold Art to round up my two and get them through the hail and the dark to the car. I planned to make chilli and post the recipe. Instead, we got fish and chips from the chippie with the life-sized neon reindeer where they play carols very loudly for eight weeks. Freddie slid a sticky, perfectly manicured hand into mine as we were queuing. 'Don't you just LOVE Christmas, Mummy?'