Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Do Gooder.

As Hubby battles it out with his battle ships, I, ever the earth mother, attended a conference last Saturday at Exeter University, not you might think in Sexuality and Gender In Dialogue and Discourse or indeed anything that might really capture my imagination and interest and spur my creative juices and improve my mind.
Instead, I and around one hundred others congregated to partake in a day of PTA related issues. Many were very earnest indeed, armed with a spiral notebook, a selection of pens and fluorescent highlighters and a packet of mints, which they sucked relentlessly. It goes without saying that their efforts at fundraising were far more impressive than our village school but I don’t really see the way forward being a ‘shame wall’ – which is exactly what it implies, a board hung up in the school hall with the names on it of those who did not help out at the summer fair/Christmas fair/buy raffle tickets/attend an event.
Two other mums from my six year old’s school PTA committee had travelled up to Exeter with me and we three listened in shock and awe, when in various ‘workshops’, we had to share ideas. To be honest I had gone along for the ride as I felt a day out, albeit one involving overhead projectors and flip-charts was better than no day out at all and to be honest, I’d had quite enough of entertaining various children on a wet Saturday afternoon as Hubby furiously shushed them during the rugby.
Shell-shocked after ‘Are you Legal?’ Sally met Sue and I in the hall for lunch - the best bit, as any school child would agree. Stuffing our faces on huge rolls and flapjacks and crisps, we discussed the morning’s events.
“It’s hardly worth holding a summer fete”, mumbled Sally wiping egg mayonnaise from her chin. “You wouldn’t believe the number of safety certificates we need. You’d swear a bouncy castle was the number one killer of the under 10’s”.
“And they always tell you it’s measles”, added Sue, “Honestly, had I known it was an inflatable I wouldn’t have gone through the trauma of the MMR vaccine”.
“What about the mulled wine situation?”, I asked, my mulled wine being a real winner at our outdoor nativity and Christmas fair.
“Ooch”, said Sally, sucking her teeth, “What do you think? We need so many licences that the PTA might as well open its own pub”. Mulling over this information, we finished our lunch in silence until a lady with a badge pinned to her breast informed us it was time for the afternoon’s activities.
Sue disappeared to ‘Writing Trust Appeals’ whilst Sally and I climbed down from our stools and shuffled into the ‘Effective Communication’ room. It is extraordinary how much thought has been put into this subject and once again, I felt as though we were the bottom of the class when it came to original ideas.
“We held a ball once”, said one woman proudly, “Ticket sales were slow and so another mum and I dressed up in our ball gowns, bling and high heels at school picking up time and walked around with flyers. It was a highly effective was of communicating the fact that the school was holding a ball and the tickets sold out immediately.”
“Oh we have a dad”, said another, “Who has been unemployed recently and is more than happy, as long as we make him a cup of tea, to wear a sandwich board promoting events and he walks up and down the playground morning and afternoon”.
Sally and I looked at each other stifling hysterical giggles.
“What about you Alice?”, asked one of the NCPTA*, pointing to my badge. On hearing my name, my giggles disappeared immediately and, chagrined, I was transported back to fourth form Physics when the teacher knew for a fact that I hadn’t been listening.
“I, well, I , we..”, I floundered.
“We have a wish list outside the school”. Sally had come to my rescue.
“It’s been hand made by one of our parents. It looks like a bean stalk and on it we have wooden leaves and on each leaf a wish of what we are fund raising for. For example, new stage lighting or a new playground”.
There was a general consensus of murmuring approval.
“Thanks Sal”, I said, “You saved my ass. We haven’t got one of those bean stalk things though have we?”
“No”, she whispered, “But it’s a bloody good idea”.
Half an hour later and we exited the room, buoyed by a list of ‘to-dos’ which were a sure-fire way of getting all the parents enthused and involved with our fundraising. We were convinced that from here on in, every concert, barn dance, beetle drive and fete would be packed to the gunwhales and we would raise thousands of pounds to enhance our little darlings’ education.
Sue, when we eventually found her, was making slime in the hall with the Mad Scientists – a group who visit schools like a theatre company but do science instead of a play. “This is fun”, she said, adding coloured paint to PVA glue and borax, “Do you come to Cornwall?”
Bristol was the closest schools they visited in the ‘South West’. Bristol the South West? Not when you live in Redruth.
“How was Writing Trust Appeals?”, I asked making our way to the car.
“One must be persistent by all accounts and possess a good vocabulary and excellent grasp of grammar and considering I never know what to do with my semi colons, that counts me out I’m afraid”. Even though we stopped at Tesco’s on the way home and I drove slowly, I was most disheartened to arrive home to find Hubby screaming abuse at the TV, my youngest two dishevelled and covered in chocolate. As the final whistle blew on a score of Scotland 15-9 England, I knew it would be a long evening.

* NCPTA - National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations.
**Since this was written England defeated Ireland and Wales won the Grand Slam (repressed whoop of joy!)


enidd said...

was that "our sally", alice? not heard from her for donkeys' yonks.

sally's hubby said...

Awww! Sally will be chuffed to be called "Our Sally". No, it wasn't. She's still around, just up to her eyeballs in all manner of things. I'm sure you'll hear from her soon.

She would probably tell the story of how we always used to hide from the Chief PTA Do-Gooder at one of our children's schools... as long as we saw her first. The consequences of being caught were just too dire!

And how many luxury fruit cakes she has lovingly crafted, only for them to be flogged off at school fetes for roughly a fifth the costs of the ingredients.

thefoodsnob said...

We have Mad Scientists here, and my daughter loves it.
The Shame Wall?! If anyone did that here they would have to add my mug shot after I was arrested for attacking them.
I think there must be better ways to motivate.


Mary Alice said...

Always a winner is getting the parents drunk on mulled wine and then letting THEM have turns in the bouncy castle. They’ll pay oddles of money for that. Nothing more fun and amusing than Middle Aged Mothers gone wild in a bouncy castle! We had one at neighborhood children’s party once. After the children went to bed, the Dad’s came out and after a few bottles of Sam Adams tried out the bouncy castle. Apparently when you get a half dozen 6 foot something, 200 lb, fit-for-the-fight soldiers bouncing off the castle walls those things do suddenly yank away from the air compressor and very suddenly deflate. Not that I know anyone who has been trapped in a deflated bouncy castle or anything.

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