Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Sweet Charity

We seem to be careering towards the end of the school year at an alarming rate.
It is particularly noticeable because every remaining day seems to require non-standard items of clothing, food or equipment in order to support the plethora of school charity days. This poses a dire threat to the well-rehearsed military precision of the morning routine. The school uniform may be all clean and ironed, but wait! It’s ‘Wear Something Blue Day’ to save water, or ‘Wear Something Yellowy-green Day’ to save the bile bears. We’ve already had ‘Wear Your Pyjamas to School Day’ and ‘Crazy Hair Day’ (both of which I endorse on a regular basis anyway). We are still living with the after-effects of ‘Crazy Hair Day’, since it involved copious amounts of coloured glitter spray. There is a fine dusting of the stuff over every surface in the house, and the bathroom looks like a drag queen’s dressing room.
At least the ‘French Day’ merely required that the children learn to shrug dramatically and mutter ‘C’est pas possible’ all the time. Parental involvement was limited to the provision of a few mouldy croissants, and a small donation to a charity which helps middle-aged women to buy matching underwear.
‘Roman Day’ was a bit scarier, involving gladiator fights to the death at playtime. The home-made toga was supposed to be straightforward, but all my sheets are fitted with elastic at the corners. So instead of a regally draped white toga, my son was sporting a pale blue billowing version with a puff-ball skirt. I forget what the charity was that day – something to do with sourcing vegetarian Christians to feed to vegetarian lions.
It may sound churlish to rail against all this fund-raising activity, but the majority of the charity days seem designed for the kids to have a big old laugh and eat lots of cake (there’s always a cake stall), while their parents run around throwing time and money at whatever outfit is required. I’m not sure that the idea of charity as an act of selflessness is actually getting through to the children.
It reminds me rather uncomfortably of a dinner party I went to recently where one of the glacial female guests peppered her conversation all evening with references to her ‘charity work.’ When I finally asked her what exactly she did for this charity, she smiled the benevolent smile of the morally superior and told me that she organised dinners and fashion shows to raise money. She lost no opportunity in reminding the other dutifully nodding guests of her extensive contribution, and clearly felt that her involvement with posh frocks and fabulous meals was enough to bestow the golden glow of virtue upon her own immaculate head.
I’m normally a very jolly drunk, but I couldn’t help wondering if she would be quite so charitable if asked to accompany a busload of incontinent pensioners on a day trip to Rhyl. Since there would be no call for a glamorous dress and limited opportunities for networking, I doubt she would be up for it. She didn’t look the type who would own a set of waterproofs, either.
Before I descend into total Scrooge-like malevolence, I need a glass of something to sweeten my mood. I think I have found the perfect solution in this glass of citrussy Leasingham Magnus Clare Valley Riesling (Sainsbury’s £7.99). This is a 2005, so there are no petrol fumes to contend with either. I happen to know that it is also a favourite of Heidi the kite-surfing, snowboarding dudette at Wood Vale Diaries.

I would like to nominate Heidi for my ‘Rockin Girl Blogger’ award, especially as she is someone who qualifies on all three counts. She gets to post the badge on her blog (by clicking on the badge, saving it as a picture, then adding it to the blog) and then to nominate someone else.
Heidi – I thought the pink badge might go with your new pink kiteboard!
Thank you Jenny from Mountain Mama for nominating me. I was absurdly delighted to be referred to as a ‘girl’ – can’t remember the last time that happened. Cheers!


dulwichmum said...

This dreadful faux charity worker, I spit in her eye... Does she have any tickets for good social events over the summer? I can pay by credit card.

@themill said...

I started getting really p****d off by continual charity appeals from school. By the time you've had four children through school you start to get a bit hard hearted and ignore them. Does that make me sound awful?!

Elaine said...

Where can I give to the bile bears appeal?

A recent charity event at my children's school left me convinced of the operation of karma.

I donated an unwanted gift given to my three year old girl to the school fete raffle: a pretty vile (on many levels) set of EIGHT pairs of plastic mini-tottery jailbait dressing up shoes in various shades of pink, purple, glitter, and feather. My three year old daughter would have adored them, but NCOM...

They were, oddly, the last prize left when all the raffle tickets had been drawn.

When the lucky winner's name was announced it was, no, not mine, but that of... our local rector.

He is now threatening to use them as the subject of a sermon.

The Good Woman said...

So, just to get this straight, charity begins at school, or on a runway, or at a gala function. Right . Got it.

rilly super said...

in my village there is a tin of baked beans which is rumoured to have spent three years being won in tombolas and then donated by the winner to the tombola of another club or charity. raising mnoney for 'charidee' is on a perhaps ona smaller scale in the country but at least we are recycling.

Bogger Blogger said...

How do you maintain high quality with high output - must be the alkyhol. I've been meaning to pick your brains on a certain subject I'd like to try out desert wines - do you have much experience of them/any suggestions?

Mya said...

We have sponsored nit drives at Sprog's school - a euro a nit. It makes money for charity and it's an enjoyable group activity for children and parents alike.

Before you get completely over run by holidaying kids, can I please tag you? Chez moi for details.

My suggestion for Friday night sparkly stuff would be Blanquette de Limoux - fairly local to here. A fete in a bottle, you might say!

My other suggestion, a bit of an insiders tip; I received an e-mail from gap-yearing nephew who has just got a job pruning vines in New Zealand. He advises we avoid 2007 Pinot Grigio from the Blenheim region as he plans to use a chainsaw to trim vines in order to speed things up thus increasing his pay. Kids!

Mya x

beta mum said...

This week is our summer fair, at which Mike and I are not running the jam jar stall again, as it gets so overrun we don't have time to spend one single minute with our children, perusing the unwanted gifts and baked beans.
My kids always buy back the cakes we make and the old toys I surreptitiously donate.

Stay at home dad said...

I'm still getting over my own schooldays, let alone my daughter's...

debio said...

My daughter has always attended schools where they are allowed to wear mufti on charity day - and pay for the privilege...As I have needed to hire an HGV to transport the many, varied and hideously expensive uniform items on the school run - only to be rendered unnecessary when it suits - I have always resented, yes, RESENTED, compulsory charity support.

And what's more, when the theme day was 'dress up as a character from a book' my daughter impressively mimicking Tracy Beaker (I think), was accused of being a 'Tart' by her form teacher!

And what's more, honourable charity chosen to receive the guaranteed contribution was chosen by honourable parent with vested interest (doubtless honourable?)

Sorry 'bout that (sorry about mixed tenses and syntax too). Got that off my chest.

Jill said...

I was wondering the same thing as bogger blogger...well, on the high quality/high output. Not on the wine. I actually prefer beer and that goes with *anything*. :-) :-) :-)

I loved the French charity day! TOO funny! It is SUCH a relief when they get to the age where they only ask for help if they need to actually purchase something for their costume. Mine might have gotten there a little faster than they would have, since I always forget...

DB said...

Do your children go to the same school as my daughter?! I am reeling at the end of an interminable list of non-uniform days: "Bring a bottle day" in which the kids could dress down in exchange for bringing a bottle of something for the school fair; "Expressive Arts Week" when they had to dress up as her favourite character (but I didn't know because daddy still had the letter telling us in his trouser pocket), so poor little princess O turned up in her school uniform; and then this week, sports day, for which every child was given a sticker (least sensible method possible?) and then told to wear the colour of the sticker to sports day the next day. Unfortunately, by the time I saw Princess O, via her childminder and after daddy had picked her up, the sticker was long gone, so once again she had to go in her usual sports kit. The worst thing of all? She's only 4!

Heidi said...

I've been nominated!
I've been nominated!
For a pink award!
*sneaks off to fill her glass with some more Leasingham*
I get to wear a beautiful pink badge!
This is just too exciting for words!
*tops up her glass*

DJ Kirkby said...

'Wear your pyjamas to school day' and 'Crazy hair day', oh goody, can't wait. What do you mean it is for the children not the moms....? Can I borrow a glass of wine? The one it comes in will suffice thanks.

mutterings and meanderings said...

I love the sound of the Roman day and the groovilicious toga! Congrats on being a rocking girl blogger!

Blossomcottage said...

I love the Rocking Girl Blogger Badge and I am going to save it too, but I am not sure about all this school stuff I must have done it once( I know I did) but it sounds like lots of very hard work and dedication. I hate those dinner parties where everyone seems to do great works not sure I really believe half of them though. Most of the fund raising around here seems to be done on the Polo field, lots of bozzy lunches whilst watching suntanned Argentians galloping up and down a field with a stick in their hand. Its a job someones got to do it.
Nice to have dropped by great blog.

Robert said...

Drunk Mummy - you rule... Bloggaphilia, Noodlerama or whatever it is. The Badge of pinkness, aka Rockin Girl Blogger, reinvigorated Heidi. Thank you

expatmum said...

Please spare a thought for us mums in the USA - whose kids have been out since June 7th! Yes, bloody June 7th! Sometimes they do camps, but this week I forgot to book anything so today I paid them to wash the car, then we all went shopping for "things" (anything that cost under $10). Then there's the constant Play Station patrol -
Me: I thought I told you to turn that off?
Him: But my friends are here.
Me: (Wander into kitchen in despair)

Congrats on the Rockin' Girl Blogger thing.

Omega Mum said...

I love the charity for middle aged women to have matching underwear. Can you nominate recipients? Very, very funny, and funnier by the day.

Rebecca said...

"I’m normally a very jolly drunk, but I couldn’t help wondering if she would be quite so charitable if asked to accompany a busload of incontinent pensioners on a day trip to Rhyl."

I really need to remember this for next time I meet one of those shove-it-down your throat 'charitable' people!

lady macleod said...

bile bear day? I want to see the costume for that one. Was the charity for liver transplants?

congratulations, you do rock!

Frog in the Field said...

Blossom Cottage, you seem to have stolen my puppy...Fruitcake! Come here!
Debio, is your daughter in HMSG as well?
Drunk Mummy, I get so sick and tired of all the wear normal clothes and pay a pound days....the bloody school uniform isn't compulsory anyway, our Head is really pushing her luck!
At least in No.1 daughters school, you pay the fees, that's (almost)it. At least they are upfront charging the high fees instead of bleeding us dry throughout the term like the Council run Primary.

The classic (government run school) trip really has to be..."J2 will be going on a trip to Waitrose.. cost £2.50!!"

What?? we do that every week, someone is definately up for the award of most stupid school trips.

Drunk Mummy said...

Dear Dulwich Mum - I daresay there will be some fashion events where you can stock up on expensive white jeans with obscure labels!

@ the mill - no, not awful, merely human and long-suffering!

elaine - yeah - that's what he SAYS, but I bet he secretly parades around in them in front of the mirror (I have read the News of the World, you know!)

good woman - absolutely. Throw in a cake stall, where parents bake the cakes, then give the kids money to buy the cakes back and you have summed it up extremely succinctly!

Rilly - I think there is a bottle of creme de menthe doing similar rounds here. If we ever win it, I'll drink it, just to break the chain (or I could use it as mouthwash).

Hello bogger blogger!
Thanks for the compliment!
I am not a big fan of 'stickies' (fnaar, fnaar!)but I recently had an excellent Robert Mondavi Moscato (about £12.95 for a half bottle) which was light and peachy, and a luscious red Ribena-like Vini Fabiano Reciotto della Valpolicella (about £15 a half bottle). I haven't seen either of these for sale through supermarkets, but you might have some luck if you have a good independent wine shop.

mya - your nephew sounds scary!
I think I have had Blanquette de Limoux before - It is on my shopping list once again. Thanks for the recommendation, and thanks for the tag!
The nit-drive sounds interesting. A money-spinner if ever there was one!

beta mum - the second hand toy stall is always something of a minefield: 'Yes, darling, we do have one exactly like that at home - anyone fancy a cake?'

SAHD - just you wait, before you know where you are you will be strong-armed into providing a costume, or running a stall!

debio - I can tell that you feel better for that! Your daughter's teacher sounds rather offensive. I hope your daughter gave her the full Tracy Beaker.

Jill - I think helping your children to achieve maturity and independence is an honourable thing!
Thank you for the compliment!

Hello db!
Sadly the madness does seem to be starting at a younger age all the time. I think you are to be applauded for taking a stand!
(I like the sound of Bring a Bottle day, though).

heidi - I am so glad you are pleased! Not only do you deserve the award for scoring highly on all three counts, but you have excellent taste in wine! Save me a bit of that Leasingham - mine's all gone!

djkirkby - ha! That is indeed a large glass! Every day is Crazy Hair Day in our house (minus the glitter spray).

M&M - thanks! I didn't take any photos of him in the toga - might have been grounds for him claiming permanent psychological damage in later years.

Hello blossomcottage!
Watching suntanned Argentinians sounds like the way to go - especially if they are ready to share a few bottles of red from back home!

Robert - you are welcome, it is well-deserved for Heidi. I know you write the blog too, but I knew you would be less than enamoured with a nomination!

expatmum - you poor dear - June 7th? That seems unnecessarily harsh!
Thanks for the congratulations!

omega mum - all my underwear matches -in shades of porridge grey. The elastic has definitely seen better days though.

rebecca - go for it! There's plenty of them around!

lady macleod - apparently the bears live in China and have their gall bladders milked or something gruesome. I think Chinese men with under-performing genitalia pay lots of money in the mistaken belief that the bile will turn them into Love Gods. (I don't think that's quite how the school explained it to the kids, but that is my interpretation).
Thank you for your congratulations!

frog in the field - that is a corker! A school trip to Waitrose? Did the teachers get the kids to push the trolleys while they loaded up with booze for the weekend?
Hang on, you've given me an idea...