“The school thought it would be nice if…” are words that send terror into the heart of any parent, because they’re usually followed by cheerful commands such as:
“Your child comes to school tomorrow dressed in a hand embroidered armadillo costume for International Reptile Awareness Day” or “You help your child create a tableau of the battle of Waterloo in Rice Krispies for their cross-curricular food and history project”.
For a millisecond I rail against the impossibilities of being a working mother and the injustice of having to spend an evening with Pritt stick rather than Homeland
…. but then I see my children’s puppy dog eyes
…. and remember the staff’s reaction when it was our turn to have the class teddy bear for the weekend and I gave into temptation and did a ‘teddy gets drunk’ photo montage for his diary
…and so I vow to be a good, sensible mother, to meekly comply…and to save my children a fortune in therapy bills in later life.
But when I received a personalised email saying the school thought it would be nice if we ran a fundraising comedy night for parents – with me as Compere – I knew I was in trouble. I’m up for dealing with largered hecklers at a comedy gig, but on earth do you handle an audience of parents I would meet everyday at the school gates for the next decade? And what if I died on the night? If I got bottled off stage would that mean my 6 year old would be booted out of Performing Arts Club and never speak to me again?…
One thought spurred me on: Surely I would rack up enough school Brownie Points that I would never again have to contribute to a cake sale. For the uninitiated, a cake sale is a bizarre school fundraising ritual where you stay up till one a.m. icing home made cupcakes, give your child a pound to spend at the cake sale and then watch as they buy your own bloody cake back.
I figured preparation for the comedy night would be key:
Step One: Remove any swearing from my material. Oh holy crap. It appears I breathe swear words. I found myself wondering if it’s OK to use ‘twat’ instead of the ‘c’ word and a mental picture of the Head of Nursery popped into my head. I hastily replaced every expletive with ‘whoopsie doops’ or ‘pants’.
Step Two: Remove inappropriate sexual innuendo from my repertoire. Oh …whoopsie doops….I quickly discovered that they are less the ‘pepper and salt’ in my routine and more the meat and two veg. But my 4 year old – who gets his enunciation of ‘d’ and ‘j’ muddled up – had just told me the Games Teacher ‘took them dogging’. I couldn’t bear to sacrifice such comedy gold.
Was it alright on the night? Praise the patron saint of clenched buttocks, – yes it was.
I’ve rarely had a lovelier audience and it turns out that underneath the middle-aged Boden exteriors dwell gloriously filthy minds.
And the absolutely best bit? There was a cake sale today and I waltzed into school empty-handed, completely up to date on the second series of Homeland…
By Harriet Beveridge
Pictured: a bake sale, Harriet Beveridge,