I am back. I apologise if the last post looked like I was fishing for compliments - I most assuredly assure you that I was not. 'Tis most against my beliefs. Still, I was grateful for all the positive affirmations of my brilliance so I won't say I didn't enjoy the feedback. I now feel obliged to keep on writing. In that spirit here is all the BREAKING news....
Friday night was the Christmas fair. Unlike most organisations, our school likes to press home the point that Advent is something to 'get through' and not to be enjoyed so every year, the Christmas fair is held on a Friday evening in the dark and the cold and sometimes the rain and/or the snow. This year a very determined group of parents did their very, very best to have the fair moved to a weekend, day slot, but miserably the powers that be were not swayed by their impassioned pleadings and stood fast with their festive Friday night endurance test. I am absolutely sure that when all the children are older and are not two, do not get ridiculously tired after a week at school or freezing cold after five minutes, it will be something I look forward to, however for the here and now it isn't my most favourite event. Much like the concerts, it is an endurance test but with the added hurt of having to pay a lot of money to go through it. (Although having said that, I like to throw money at the fairs to alleviate the guilt I feel for not getting more involved with the parents' association and all the marvellous things they do to make the school even better. I just watch on from afar admiring their dedication and walking ever so slightly faster when they lurk in the playground trying to enlist people to help.) Anyhoo, that said I had pre-booked my slot with the big FC and Bea was due to sing with her choir so I had high hopes that it wouldn't be as bad as I feared. And it wasn't. For about half an hour it was positively enjoyable. Packed, yes, hot, yes but after finding a Ben 10 toy, a batman toy, a stuffed penguin and a Ben 10 dressing up outfit on the table top sale and a successful trip to the big FC, I was positively filled with the Christmas spirit (especially as when they sat in the grotto Bea and G asked him for the things I had already bought - RESULT). And then Bea had to go to a classroom to meet with her choir before the performance. At first all was good. She was happily dropped off and the boys were fine as we waited for about ten minutes to Thwack the Rat. The boys had a one minute go with which they were satisfied especially as they got a prize for their efforts. And then G became very vocal about his desire to leave. Right THEN. Very soon after that I discovered that the choir would not be coming on for another twenty minutes. Ted was keen to leave too. If I told G once that we couldn't leave until Bea had sung I must have told him fifty times. We went back over to games he had enjoyed playing and played them again. He won more things. Including a BHS coat from the BHS coat raffle (not many schools can boast such a stall - I have to admit to being impressed - although not by the coats - I didn't fancy the female ones so we got one for K). There was still time to fill. G was now digging his feet in. He was becoming angry. Ted was wandering off. I found a doorway that was well lit and free so I dumped our bags and sat Ted down with a Ben 10 book - another great find. I then realised G had taken my warnings re the cold weather to extremes and his discomfort, and subsequent need to leave, was due to him wearing five layers - including two fleeces. He was boiling in the heat of the packed hall - although I imagine quite comfortable when we were waiting outside to go in to the grotto. I relieved him of three layers, including the two fleeces and stood him on a table to get a better view of Bea when she appeared. Eventually she came on stage and was totally lost at the back of the small stage by the rest of the choir and the huge number of parents packed around the small stage smiling and waving cameras. I managed to catch a glimpse of her sparkly red hairband and waved manically. The boys were placated with cake. The singing went on. And on. For nearly twenty minutes. In the end I put Ted on my shoulders, abandoned G on the table with all our belongings and my handbag and we managed to alert Bea to our position in the crowd and Ted waved and clapped as required. The relief as they finished was overwhelming. Then began the queue to get her from the classroom they had been herded back into. Ted did not understand why more waiting was needed. Bea came out and immediately demanded to do the fair and the toy sale. I told her the toys were all but gone. She burst in to tears and said that she had missed the fair. Ted was getting heavy on my hip and then G turned up berating me for being gone for so long and that he had been looking for me. Desperately trying to make Bea happy I took her to what remained of the toys - a sad mix of unwanted soft toys, board games and bits of plastic toys. She didn't want anything and the thing that she had her eye on had disappeared. Tears flowed along with sobs. G was pushing me to get me to leave and also demanding to see the big FC again as he had forgotten to tell him something. Ted was still clinging on to me. The hall was still hot and the fair was still on for another hour and a half. I assured Bea that she had had half an hour and £2 to get whatever she wanted before the choir debacle and as she hadn't got it at that time, I couldn't really be blamed. That didn't help. I became authoritative rather than placatory and somehow I manged to get us all out of the hall with all of our bags and belongings - including the coat which turned out to be way too big and has now been given to a very grateful friend - and across the playground. I didn't even shout. I was carrying around five bags and was being trailed by three crying children at varying distances. G then saw the grotto again and his insistence on seeing Father Christmas again became louder. I still did not shout. We got to the car. G started shouting that he wanted his new toys NOW. Bea carried on sobbing. Ted was relieved to be going home. I remained calm through all the random and bizarre ramblings of the tired sobbing/shouting children on the short trip home, got them in the house and up the stairs and into the bath. By this time I had also managed to show Bea the soft penguin and etch a sketch I had bought which I said she could call her own, as well as her present from Father Christmas, so her tears finally stopped. K arrived home. I almost collapsed with relief. He picked up where I had left off. And I STILL hadn't shouted. I felt most proud of myself - a first. I had spent around £40 though. That made me a little weepy.
Onwards and upwards. After a restorative sleep I took Saturday in my stride. Double dance lessons for Bea and then on to help a friend with her son's party. Then dealing with Ted at said party whilst K went off with the milkman (bizarre I know - the milkman knows he is an estate agent and wanted him to see a property - not 'off' forever). Then night in with takeaway and X factor. Not a bad Saturday.
However, I haven't told you of the real excitement which took place this morning - I took Bea and G to Notting Hill! Exciting enough you might think but it gets more so - to the Electric Cinema to see an exclusive screening of a new adaptation of The Borrowers. My friend was involved with its production so she very kindly invited us along and I am exceedingly grateful I didn't have to wait until Boxing Day to see it. It is AMAZING - I LOVED IT. (Set your boxes now peeps, it is, in my humble opinion, the best Christmas TV since The Gruffalo). The children and I were particularly appreciative of the large leather armchairs and the complimentary and free flowing food and drink that accompanied the screening. (They were on hot chocolate and me tea - not alcoholic drinks obviously - not only are they children but it was 10am on a Sunday morning). It was sodding early on a Sunday actually. We had to leave at 9.15am and whilst that time on a weekday seems quite far on in the day, on a Sunday it seems quite unbelievable that there are other human beings awake and up and out of their homes - I just kept asking WHY when I saw them. We even saw a small group at our usual Sunday park of choice. At 9.20 am? We were incredulous.
The children saw the early start and the car journey as a huge adventure and Bea kept telling G we were going to be going 'to the other part of London' in excited tones. The Thames crossing was particularly touching as they gasped and noted its odd colouring. On the North side they began the 'fun' game of counting Taxis. At first I tried to stop this dull game - particularly as it was interfering with my insightful and informative guided tour. As I pointed out Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, The War Memorial etc the taxi game got on my nerves, but then we reached Park Lane and I realised with quiet alarm that the shameless-moneygrabbing-fairbyanyothernamebutwithfakesnow that is 'Winter Wonderland' was on and heavily advertised on Hyde Park's perimeter fence. I did not want three more weeks of nagging to go to it so I threw myself into the taxi game and pointed forcefully to ones on the other side of the road and then almost squealed with excitement at the very abundant and prettily lit Christmas Trees outside The Dorchester. Mercifully they missed Winter Wonderland entirely and I was saved. We made it to Notting Hill with the total taxi count at around fifty (they lost count so approximated). The Electric is a fabulous cinema and I felt particularly at home, surrounded as we were by lots of parents of traditionally named children (and of course the obligatory Rafferty). I was able to fully unleash my private school accent and call the children Darling at every opportunity without shame. (I couldn't do it every day but once in a blue moon it is fun to overdo the accent and pretend that I am 'one of them' - those that can afford a loft conversion, numerous children and the designer handbag I proudly display which my sister gave me for my Bday). The children behaved appropriately and the whole experience was terribly jolly and well worth the early start. Although as we got back in to the car and I was encouraging the children to tell me how much they had enjoyed themselves, G seemed annoyed and said 'I thought we were seeing the Smurfs. I wanted the Smurfs'. Clearly I should have explained that the 'little people' we were going to see were not blue. Still, you can't please all the people all of the time - Bea and I cannot wait to see it again - she is already asking for the DVD. I was even teary at the end, but quickly stopped as Bea put out her hand in a stop sign, fixed me with a withering stare and said 'Don't you Dare'.
So - The Borrowers, Boxing day, BBC 1. Don't forget. Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood, Christopher Ecclestone, Sharon Horgan and a small child actor who was 'totes amaze'. BUT No smurfs. WATCH IT. And then buy the DVD. It's far longer than The Gruffalo and far better than The Smurfs.
I think that is long enough. I shall leave you to your Sunday evening.
À tout à l'heure xxx