THERE is no other social occasion that I dread more, nor one I endure with teeth gritted or one that leaves me more deeply depressed than The School Coffee Morning.
At School Coffee Mornings, there's no space to escape as at the school's Summer and Christmas fairs and, tragically, there's no stall happily doling out Pimms or Mulled Wine, as season dictates, set up in the corner. There ARE some school desks in the school hall with some school chairs that are just entirely the wrong height for anyone over the height of 5ft to sit on. I, by the way, am 5ft 9.
There IS a stall set up in the corner but this stall is selling what is purportedly the results of the entire school's population of mothers fondly slaving over a hot stove. Generally this turns out to be a selection of lopsided, improbably coloured iced buns that have actually been genuinely homemade (by several Grandmas after fraught phone calls at 20 past 9 the night before), some glamourously bouffanted confections (bought at a tiny bakers in a village 30 miles away and passed off as homemade), some scones that look like biscuits, some biscuits that look like stones, 300 tonnes of chocolate-soaked rice crispies and a suspiciously large array of Mr Kipling's finest, those extra added sprinkles fooling no-one.
And that's basically the School Coffee Morning .. a choice of coffee or tea, though both are tepid and largely undrinkable, and cakes, a percentage of which probably contravene health and safety laws. And it's all packaged up in a large assembly hall with appalling acoustics and noise so overwhelming, you're almost completely unable to hear what the person next to you is yelling in your ear.
Oh, and it's 9.30 in the morning. *scowls*
AND they want you to buy a raffle ticket for yet another set of plastic badminton rackets. Why is the raffle prize ALWAYS a set of badminton rackets, WHY? *shakes headteacher by the lapels*
MAYBE it's because I don't drink coffee and the tea is always the same colour as Katie Price and twice as thick. Maybe it's because I don't do cake,
MAYBE it's because I've been going to the same coffee mornings at the same school since the year 2000 and am destined to go to the same coffee mornings at the same school for another FIVE years .. *Sobs a bit more* ..
MAYBE it's because I'm on the wrong side of 45 and, in this particular school year's crop of other mothers, I'm the same age as The Small Boy's best friend's GRANDMA ....*wails*
OR maybe the reason I utterly loathe the School Coffee Morning is because after 11 years at the schoolface, woman and, er, woman, I've have had enough of the inane and sometimes insane chatter that passes for conversation between women whose only relationship is grunting at each other on the school run.
I don't want to know that your dog sits in your pants when you're on the toilet. No really, I don't. Or that you have family gatherings in the bathroom when daddy is sat on the loo. What? Really? Really? Nooo ..... I DON'T WANT to know.
I DO want to know which one of you buggers has the child that calls all his friends "Mate" in mock cockney because now my child is doing it too, ALL THE TIME. And I want to know which one of you has STILL got The Small Boy's PE kit stashed in the cupboard at home, do you never look at nametags *tuts*
And you, yes I AM speaking to you, I do want you to know that if YOUR child goes and pushes MY child over in the playground on purpose just one more time I'll, well I'll i'll ........ *cough* shut up now.
*Glowers a bit*
*Tries to get cup of tea past knees to lips*