Fair to Remember
put the phone down having declined an invitation to go and
watch a movie. Friday evening and there I was baking cakes
and decorating dinosaur biscuits! Why, you may ask. Well
the answer would have to be a pair of big brown eyes and
an inability to say no to “pleeeeese mummy” when in fact
I should put my foot down and say “absolutely not”. Let
me rewind a little more. My son with all the good intentions
in the world had very kindly volunteered my services to
provide some cakes and biscuits for the tea room at his
school fair. I use the word “volunteer” very loosely as
this is the kind of volunteering where when they say any
volunteers step forward, everyone except you steps backwards.
So when he looked beseechingly at me, wringing his hands,
dramatically making it clear how his reputation was at stake,
I had to capitulate and hence we get back to me and the
power of the mind is as strong as it is claimed to be, then
I think I must have stared at the oven on Friday evening
and willed the cakes to rise and not come out looking like
oversized biscuits. Luckily there were no major catastrophes.
I finished icing the cakes and watched the kids design the
dinosaur biscuits with green and red icing dots here, stripes
there--palaeontologists around the world would shudder at
the sight of the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex with multicoloured
flowers on his back! Anyway, I went to bed satisfied that
my 7 year old son would not have to hang his head in shame
labelled “son of woman who can't even bake”.
day we piled into the car -- three excited children and
two reluctant parents and headed for my son's school. We
arrived promptly at 2 o'clock and made our way to the tea
room to deposit the cakes and biscuits. This was where weary
parents could sit and have a cup of tea and buy a slice
of cake or biscuit to reinvigorate themselves before entering
into a frenzy of activity once again. I might as well not
have bothered--there were piles of cakes and pastries (all
homemade) and some of them were, to my mind, confectionery
extravaganzas. I felt like my cakes were poor relatives
standing next to their rather rich and more opulent cousins.
Anyway, all I could hope was that they would get eaten and
not have to suffer the humiliation of being the last cake
on the shelf, so to speak.
then free to roam around the school and partake in the various
activities organised by the children and teachers. What
always manages to impress me about my son's school is its
ability to make people, i.e. students and parents alike,
feel welcome and at ease. This kind of nurturing environment
is, in my opinion, a perfect way for children to flourish.
All the teachers are friendly and approachable and similarly
the students are polite and pleasant. It was also amusing
to see all the teachers donning funny hats and wigs to add
to the mood of festiveness. Posters designed by the children
were displayed on the walls and on the stairs and the school
was bustling with activity--in fact it felt like it was
about to burst at the seams. Our second port of call was
to see what my son's class had set up as their game. It
was a simple but entertaining game aptly named “Splat the
Rat”! In other words, a makeshift tunnel had been created
where a soft toy (the rat) was dropped into and the player
had to stand at the open end of the tunnel and try and “splat”
the rat with a wooden spoon as it came whizzing out! The
sad part was, none of us managed to even touch the rat!
However, my children were more than satisfied with the consolation
sweets that they were given.
to the tea room was a little area where children could decorate
their own cup cakes. It was lovely to watch them busy at
work choosing an assortment of smarties, liquorice, golden
and silver edible balls, coloured icing etc. to bedeck their
precious cakes. I noticed that while the girls at the table
were taking their time making their cakes look pretty, most
of the boys were cramming as many sweets as possible on
their cake. When the end products were presented to us,
we “oohed” and “aahed” at them like most dutiful parents
and watched the cakes travel swiftly into eager little mouths
and disappear until only the cake wrappers were left. Those
were of course put straight into our hands with the assumption
that parents are in their multifunctional purpose also an
instant waste disposal service. Interestingly enough in
the tea room next to the pies and salads table was one with
samosas, chicken tikka, etc. and the queue for the latter
table surpassed the “pie” table by far. On our way up to
the other games and stalls I had to take a quick peep to
see if my cakes were still there and if so whether I should
go and buy them myself (actually send my husband to buy
them) but to my sheer relief they were nowhere in sight.
There could only be one of two possible explanations. The
first one would be that they had been sold to a cake connoisseur
who recognised a good cake when he/she saw one or the second
were the cakes committed suicide and hurled themselves into
the nearest bin!
classes had set up different games and as we entered each
room we were at times dragged in by the teachers to participate.
The “Human Fruit Machine” was another ingenuous game consisting
of three blindfolded boys, three boxes and an assortment
of fruits. When the participant said the word “go” the boys
had to rummage around the boxes and pick up a fruit. If
the boys got two matching fruits you won a sweet and if
they picked up three of the same fruits you won a prize!
My favourite game had to be the one the senior boys had
set up. It was called “Dastardly Darts”. They had pinned
a dart board on one wall and on the wall next to it had
stuck pictures of all the teachers under the heading “Hall
had entered into the spirit of things and had pulled their
meanest faces for the camera. Even the headmistress had
put on a school tie and school cap and was trying to look
surly! The participants then got to choose the picture of
whichever teacher they felt like and throw darts at it.
Anyone able to get all three darts within the allotted circle
won a prize. In fact the teacher supervising the game was
egging the boys to choose one teacher or another. When I
think back to my school days, I can't imagine any of our
teachers participating in activities of this kind. There
were the annual science fairs and sports days but they were
all rather prescribed. Nor can I imagine that they would
even allow students to make fun of them even in such a harmless
and humorous manner. The student/teacher relationship was
always very formal and familiarity was in no way encouraged.
So, when I see the relationship shared by my children and
their teachers, it warms my heart and in a way makes me
a touch envious.
a couple of hours of playing some more games and checking
out even more stalls, we decided to call it a day. For the
second time that day, we piled back into the car--three
very happy children laden with sweets and prizes and two
parents reluctantly admitting they had almost as much fun
as their offspring.
did I mention my daughters are having their school fair
next week and I believe I have been “volunteered” to man
the lucky dip stall…