Don’t have children. It means you have to spend years of your life taking them to parties. From the age of about five when they first go to school, till they’re teenagers and embarrassed by your very existence, you have to take them to an endless succession of ghastly parties. Unless you have a socially inadequate child with no friends. Sometimes as you take your sugar crazed child home from the latest Themed Horror, this doesn't seem such a bad idea.
The Girl went to a Mermaid Party at the weekend. Her best friend had invited a maximum of THIRTY children to the local swimming baths followed by tea in a room lit with the kind of strip lighting you see in interrogation scenes. Oh God I hate swimming baths. They bring back all those dreadful memories of Monday Afternoon Swimming at my primary school. We had a sports mad teacher who after lining us up by the side of the pool to humiliate whoever had sprouted a verucca – she yelled at us to get into the cold, stinky chlorinated pool. Armed with a pole topped off with a hook, (in case some errant child tried to get out of the pool, for nefarious reasons – fear of drowning, possibly) she would march up and down the pool blowing her whistle and screeching. Then when the swimming lesson was over we would troop shivering into the changing room and I would discover that somehow my clothes were now on the wet floor. We would all dress as fast as possible, struggling to get wet clothes onto our dripping, chlorinated infested limbs. “Last one out of the changing room loses as House Point!” shrieked Teacher, as we emerged, wet, bedraggled, full of self-loathing.
So no, I don’t like swimming. And taking The Girl into this particular cold, damp, echoey changing room brought all this back. But she of course, loved it. Leaping into the kiddy pool like a little fish, while we mothers Had Fun pushing our children round the pool on various rubber contraptions. The children were screaming like little tyrants. “Faster mummy!” The water was cold, so after gritting my teeth and splashing about for ten minutes I gave up and clambered out, half expecting to be poked by teacher.
Then we all dressed and lugged legions of party food into the room with bad strip lighting. There were so many children it resembled a medieval feast with us mothers standing behind our children (just like medieval serfs, all encouraging and pleading with them to eat a few carrot sticks and sandwiches) If any adult, fainting with hunger pinched a sarnie or a crisp, (ie me) we’d get a lava freezing glance from Birthday Girl’s Mum. Nicking party food is a capital crime even if there’s tons of the stuff.
Thirty children?! Or was it Forty? Or was it just a sea of little girls wearing tiraras? I don’t have that many friends and Birthday Girl was only five years old. It’s all politics. If you insist your child only invites a small number of children, it gets round and on the next party with laser lighting and a personal appearance by Dora the Explorer, you can guarantee your child won’t be invited. The Girl will be five soon and already she’s come up with a list of her bestest bestest friends. I’ve made her cap the list at ten people, and I’m frantically checking out party entertainers, and wondering how I could sneak some valium into the marmite sandwiches.
Just had a thought of a Really Good Party Game. You send all the children into the garden and offer £20 to whoever comes back last.
On another note, I was sad to hear of the death of lovely Tony Hart. He created Morph and the original Blue Peter badge. I will never forget the joyous thrill I felt on tuning into Vision On and seeing my splodgy daubs featured. Altogether now: "And now . . . The Gallery."