Decking in the Halls

Sunday, 29 November 2009

'You ever book me for a gig at that bloody school again and I'll push you off the sleigh on Christmas Eve.  Right over Swindon.  Capiche?'

Today was the bots' school Christmas Fayre, an annual free-for-all where disgruntled teachers give up their Saturday to wear antlers and Santa hats and their normally obedient uniformed charges, fuelled up on sugar, get to rampage around the nursery school. Officially, there are adorable little stalls displaying the results of weeks of crafty activity for doting parents and grandparents to buy. Unofficially, it is more Lord of the Flies. The children wear mufti; Rose's year, having left these hallowed halls several years ago, are on a mission to display their new maturity. Tiny denim skirts, pixie boots and curtains of hair, narrowing their made-up eyes in a pretence of having forgotten the names of the devoted souls who steered them throught those wobbly first years of school.

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?'


  1. Do you know I've been waiting expectantly for your next post (sad bugger that I am) and it didn't disappoint. Is it too early for the voddie to toast another gem?

  2. Oh, I do love Christmas, but yours sounds like a lot more fun.

    Do you have any strange international holiday customs you incorporate into your celebrations that you will be sharing with us?

  3. Trish, thanks so much - and no, never ever too early for a vodka. Ask your husband.

    ADG - yup, I think so.

    Tish, I only have strange family ones, but happy to share...

  4. I miss regular contact with you ELS but now I have finally discovered your blog so I can read all about your fabulous antics and life-time (so far!) of memories. Hasta luego x

  5. Amiga! Just saw this, sorry. Bienvenida, querida! Feliz Navidad to you and your precious ones. xxx


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