Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The school fete survival guide

We are in the grip of a glorious British summer and the time is approaching for one of the most feared events on the parenting calendar. The school fete.

Why is it so feared I hear you ask? Well lets be honest if you enjoy the school summer fete its unlikely you will be reading this blog. For the rest of you who have stumbled across this site whilst looking for last minute flights to Amsterdam let me paint a picture. Imagine, if you will, a very poor quality car boot sale. No, on second thoughts imagine a crap version of Noel Edmund's multi coloured swap shop.

The premise is simple. You take a truck load of shite from your house consisting of broken toys, board games with missing pieces and soft toys riddled with fleas and you swap this with a truck load of similar shite from your friends and neighbours. There are a number of stages in between but the result is essentially the same.

There will be some extra bits. There will be a barbecue for example. Not a professionally run barbeque I hasten to add. This one will be run by a recently redundant bank manager. As such, you will all get salmonella and the school will have to hastily cobble together a letter saying that the barbecue was not authorised by the Head.

As luck would have it we live in the UK. This means on the day of the fete it will piss down. The fete committee will have had many lengthy and high level strategic discussions about this possibility. In fact they will have had lengthy discussions on many topics starting 6 months before the fete. Possibly as a feeble excuse to spend time away from their spouse or in an attempt to sleep with another parent on the committee. Eventually they will reach the inevitable conclusion that the school is too small to have it in doors so we'll have it on the yard and cross our fingers.

If you live in a rough area the fete will happen in school time. This is because the school knows the parents are free during the day, providing there isn't a Jeremy Kyle marathon on. Even if there is, a stall selling knocked off duty free fags will tempt them out of the house.

The school also knows that they can only ask staff to turn out at the weekend out of good will. In rough schools there isn't any. The staff have had a tit full of the parents and the kids by Friday and wouldn't dream of giving up their Saturday afternoon in Ladbrookes to be pelted with wet sponges.

As the school can't persuade the parents to set up a fete committee this decision is made by the Head, who has a caravan down the Gower and leaves early every Friday.

Schools in middle class areas always have the fete at the weekend. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly the school knows that if they have it during the school day, hardly anyone will come. As a result the school won't make the princely sum of £68 to put towards a new IPAD for the nursery.

Secondly the fete committee will argue that a summer fete during the week would mean an unacceptable loss of lesson time and possibly effect Tarquin's chances of getting into the local grammar. Everyone in education knows this is bollocks! All the tests an assessments happen before Easter so the kids haven't been taught anything since March. Never the less the members of the committee are well educated, opinionated and totally lacking in even the most basic knowledge of education. A dangerous combination.

Thirdly the staff will be prepared to turn out at the weekend. There still isn't any good will and the thought of being harangued by overly ambitious parents about Tarquin being on the same reading book for six months will fill them with dread. Never the less they also know that middle class parents will move their child at the drop of a hat, which means jobs are at risk. As such they will consume several large tumblers of GlendFiddich and get the wet sponges ready.

So how can you avoid this ordeal? Here are some suggestions:
  1. From January onwards sever all links with any parents on the committee. If possible change your mobile phone and don't tell anyone. This will ensure you are not co-opted into running the book stall. If they track you down at home, which is very possible, here are some ideas:
  2. Offer to bake cakes for the cake stall. The cake stall is the chance for middle class mums to show how perfect they are so competition will be intense. If you leave it late enough they will have plenty to sell and won't need your hastily repackaged ASDA Victoria sponge.
  3. Offer to run a stall which is inherently dangerous. This could be knife throwing, fire eating, bungee jumping or rifle shooting. The school's health and safety rep will be scared shitless and kindly refuse your offer. It will also give the school the impression you are a sadistic maniac and ensure you are not asked in the future.
  4. These days you can't drive into a school car park without a criminal records check. Suggest to your child's teacher that you are unable to provide one due to a "small misunderstanding over internet use" from a few years ago. They can't disprove it and you'll never be asked to a school event again.
  5. In preparation for the event, be overly flirty with a member of the school staff. The younger the better. Try to come across as creepy rather than letting your natural animal magnetism shine through as it might not achieve the desired result. If you get a reputation as a bit of a pest they'll leave you alone.
If these suggestions don't work I'm afraid I can't help you. At best you will spend your Saturday handing over your hard earned cash for 16 bags full of old scaletrix cars and trying in vein to pull your kid down from the seat of a fire engine. At worst you will stand, in the rain, behind a pile of clothes that Oxfam wouldn't touch with a latex glove, attempting to look jolly.

The kids of course will have a fantastic time. But, at the risk of repeating myself, if that's at the top of your agenda you are reading the wrong blog.

Good luck.

Hapless Dad

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