It's nearly the end of the school year and the time I dread most. There is nothing that makes me wants to reach for the Xanax, down a bottle of vodka and lie in a cold dark room more than the prospect of Sports Day.
Just the mere mention of it makes me want to self immolate. What's the point of it all? School Sports Day all over the land are, for the most part, miserable, tense affairs, populated with weeping children, smug parents and badly behaved dogs. Where's the joy in an occasion, which sets out to divide the world into winners, losers and real no hopers?
Obviously, I'd see things differently if I'd had a fling with Usain Bolt and had produced a child who was swift of foot, but sadly I didn't. So every year I endure a medal-less, sticker-less, prize-less afternoon where I shout myself hoarse, longing for my dear daughter to learn to run in a straight line and all the while getting tense about the mother's race.
For what I hadn't factored into the equation when I congratulated myself on my getting my daughter a rare and recherché place at a Notting Hill school pupil-ed by the offspring of the great, the good and the glam was - the parents. Of course I'd thought these children HAD parents. They were great and good and glam parents, hence the rare and recherché nature of the school places. But what hadn't entered my head was that I'd have to spend any time with them, talk to them or indeed race against them.
On the first day of term, I realised I might have made a mistake. I had never seen mothers like it. As I braille parked the car, gently tapping two Range Rover bumpers out of my way with my 75 year old VW Golf, I witnessed what can only be called a 'gathering'. Like a rare breed of flamingos sporting a skinny jean and a pump, I saw them come scooting along the street. From the left, and the right, they came, their white teeth shining, their flicky, flicky long blonde hair fanning in their wake. They had legs up their armpits and lips that only money could buy. They exuded health, wealth and most terrifying of all, fitness. I immediately called my husband. "Darling," I said. "They're not of this world."
But something in me made me refuse to go down without a fight. I spent a few months on the DuKan't diet, bought my first pair of jeans since 1986 and even contemplated going to the gym on occasions. All I knew was that when push literally came to shove in the mother's race on sports day, I just didn't want to be last.
However come the morning, come the fatal mistake. I went for a spray tan. Not a race-loser in itself you'd think. I even used the 15 minutes I spent being hosed brown in my plastic shower cap and disposable underwear well. I tried to focus on tactics. Tripping was fine. Even jumping the gun slightly. I was not going to disappoint.
So while I slowly turned mahogany, discussing colouring-in with Mr Morris and telling my 6-year-old that no one needs egg and spoon in the adult world, I was quietly confident. At least three of the women in my class were pregnant I was surely not going to lose.
Then finally the moment came. The mothers were called and we lined up at the start. Ready? "What's that noise?" asked a mother next to me, springing up and down like a caged tiger in her spikes. Steady? "God!" she said, her face was horrified, as she stared at the elastic poking out of my trousers. "Are you wearing paper knickers?" What? I looked down. Go! They were off! And by the time I looked up to see what was happening the whole race was over. Even the pregnant women had crossed the line, some flicky flicky blond was crowned champion. And my daughter promptly burst into tears.
Oh well, I thought, at least I'm the colour of Pippa Middleton and there is always next year.
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