Monday, 20 October 2008


‘Alice to get cheese, crackers and wine for AGM’. This was my directive on the action grid of our PTA’s minutes from our last meeting. I rang the secretary, “So, we are going with a cheese and wine evening then?” I asked, doubtful that anyone would turn up.
“Yes”, she replied, “I know it’s a risk Alice, but we must try and get some of the new parents on board and hopefully, some Brie and Barolo will be the incentive to get them through the door”.
“I don’t think the cash and carry run to a Barolo, but I get your drift”. Duly, once I’d finished work, I rushed to pick the Red-Head from school, almost threw her into the back of the car, hopped onto the ferry and raced to the cash and carry; having bought the requested comestibles whilst dragging a curious 4 year old around a new and strange environment, I chucked her and my purchases into the back of the car, hared back to school, picked up three more children and returned home. Phew.
My feet, having been incarcerated within high heeled, leather shoes all day were screaming at me to be set free but, without a minute to spare I gritted my teeth and working through the pain barrier instead, I lifted the six year old onto a kitchen stool, laid out her spelling book and beside it prepared dinner for seven people not counting me.
Chopping onions and garlic, she and I worked through her spellings and the subsequent sentences. It was like pulling teeth. That’s not actually an accurate analogy as I love doing that and in the last week I have had the satisfaction of extracting three milk teeth from the 6 year old’s mouth. Hubby runs away gagging and horrified but I love it. Surely it is better than watching your poor child wiggle her tooth back and fore, back and fore, her tongue worn down by its exertions; the child in question fed up with eating on one side continually?
She now, not only believes in the Tooth Fairy whole-heartedly and the fact that, having left small change under her pillow every night, even the sprite world is not immune to the credit crunch, but that her mother and I quote, “ is a tooth-taker-outer expert”, as my technique, as long as she keeps still, is painless .
Not so spellings. “Please just get on with it”, I implored, browning the onions and garlic, “You have ten sentences to write and time is moving on”. I looked at the clock, it was 5.30pm and I had to be in the school hall in forty five minutes, where was Hubby, he said he’d be back around now.
She protested her rights to play. “Listen love, I would like to have my feet in a bowl of sea salts, but this is real life, take it on the chin. Now then ‘spear’- suh, puh, er, ah, ruh. Some tribes spear their fish”.
I emptied a carton of lardons into the onions and turned back to slicing a pork fillet. The Red-Head appeared, “Can I have a Ribena?”, she said as I, on automatic pilot, answered, “Please, may I?” The telephone rang, Hubby was just leaving. I turned the oven on and put in two part-baked baguettes, stirred the meat and with the other hand pulled out a large pan, filled it with water and placed it on the hob.
“Dear. Duh, er, ah, ruh. Dear Santa, I have been a good girl”. I emptied a tin of chopped tomatoes onto the meat, added some red wine, tore some basil and covered the pan. I made the requested Ribena, removed seven plates from the cupboard and counted the requisite number of knives and forks and grated some parmesan cheese.
“Near. Nuh, er, ah, ruh. It is very near to my mummy’s birthday”.
“Is it mummy?” asked the 6 year old, glad of a diversion.
“Yup”, I replied, stirring two packet s of linguine into the large pan, “Tuesday the 21st”. From the corner of my eye I spied a teenager. “Can someone please lay the table?” I hollered before adding, “I am going out with Mags and a few friends. Daddy is as ever, commemorating the Battle of Bloody Trafalgar”.
“But Tuesday is our Bed-Time story night at school; we have to go back in the dark in our jammies to have cocoa. I really wanted to go, everyone else is go...” her lip gave way and she dissolved into instantaneous tears. Wondering how I would tell Hubby that his evening devoted to , "The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him" was to be stymied, was interrupted by my son, clutching his girlfriend, “Do you want me?”, he asked.
“Only if you’re interested in any dinner”, I replied as brusquely.
I drained the pasta, lifted it onto the plates, applied a dollop of meat and sauce, sprinkled parmesan and carried plates into the dining room; sliced the hot bread, plonked it into a basket, filled a jug and put it all on the dining table. Returning to the kitchen I artfully arranged a cheese board and grapes, filled a basket with an abundance of biscuits and carried it all, as well as wine, juice and posh crisps to my car. Returning for my handbag I met Hubby on the steps.
“Spellings and sentences need to be completed and Traf night is looking iffy. Bye”.
Arriving in the school hall, some of the committee had already rearranged tables and chairs and the sec had made a wonderful display demonstrating the PTA’s fathomless efforts. Apart from three dads it was a no show. There was a lot of cheese to get through, ergo; I never, ever want another sniff of Brie.


Yvonne said...

Happy Birthday Alice hope you have a lovely day and you are well looked after.

Yvonne x

Alice Band said...

Thankyou Yvonne. I've had so many texts from kind people that I am beginning to wonder if my days are numbered!

Kit said...

Happy Birthday Alice. I hope there was not a whiff of Brie in sight and no spellings to labour through either.

Eloise said...

I loved this little *peek* into your family life, Alice. What a wonderful devoted mother you are! Your dinner sounded fabulous - much better than the cereal or pizza that my children tend to be served on evenings when I have something going on.

The soirée you and the PTA threw was a lovely idea. I'm sorry you didn't have a better turnout.

Happy, happy birthday! I hope you pamper yourself with a special treat. You do so much for your family but I worry about who's taking care of YOU.

Roads said...

Happy Birthday, Alice.

You're 4 days younger than me, I see. No hard cheese about that.

Tom said...

Happy Birthday Alice.
Wish you a long and happy live.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Alice! May you be feted with much love (and no Brie)!

Mary Alice said...

Of course now people will get wind of the brie and wine and will all show up for the next PTA meeting, when you will be ill prepared. That's the way it goes. Happy Birthday dear. Make sure you get yourself a celebratory cake...and a good one too….and maybe a pair of very ugly but fantastically comfortable work shoes! My teacher friends are all for clogs!

Alice Band said...

Thankyou everyone for your lovely messages! Mary Alice - the mention of shoes is appropriate but they deserve their own column inches!

Sally said...

The thing with shoes is that kids really notice what you wear don't they? I wore comfortable boots the other day and one of teh kids said: "Miss, aren't you hot in those?" What she might as well have said was: "Miss, I really prefer your high heels with nice bars..."

Happy Birthday AB. Hope it was a good one!!