“Daddy, I’m so excited about the school fête!”
All Saturday morning, Kara repeatedly made sure I was aware of the summer fête and how excited she was about it. She told me on the way to her gym class. She told me on the way back from her gym class. She told me while I was shopping for dinner (a particularly splendid lamb roast, seeing as you asked). She told me as we walked down and dutifully took our place in the queue waiting for the gates to open.
She was quite excited, despite my obvious amusement at being in the middle of a queue of about 30 kids who were also so keyed up that they just had to be there the moment the fête began. Wry expressions were exchanged with fellow parents. (“Kids? What are you going to do, eh?”) The queue to see Ed Sheeran at Glastonbury last weekend was possibly slightly longer – but not by much.
School fêtes are curious things. They are a place to peruse second-hand children’s toys and books. To try one’s hand at games of skill – Hook-A-Duck, Tin Can Alley, something about digging in boxes of sand to find a magnet. To hope for a half-decent prize in the tombola. To gorge on burgers, hot dogs and 99 Flakes.
Most of all, though, they are venues in which a strange form of capitalism takes place. You supply, for free, a variety of raffle prizes and unwanted bric-a-brac. And then you spend the GDP of a small African country to either buy or attempt to win it all back again. Honestly, it would be easier to just hand over a blank cheque and the deeds to all my worldly possessions and be done with it.
I’m joking. Well, part of me is, anyway.
I don’t begrudge fund-raising events such as this. School budgets are tighter than ever and I’m happy for the proceeds raised to go towards buying PCs that don’t look like they belong in a museum or towards the head teacher’s fact-finding mission to the Bahamas. (Again, I’m joking. We all know the trip is actually to Koh Samui.)
Nonetheless, despite the rumour about Adele cancelling her final Wembley gigs so that she could make a surprise appearance at the fête proving unfounded, the kids had a great time. They thoroughly enjoyed such simple pleasures as bouncy castles, winning bags of Haribo at various stalls and generally finding ways to get me to open up my wallet approximately every 43 seconds.
The highlight for all three, though, was the bucking bronco. (I didn’t mention that the event had a Wild West theme, did I? Well, now I have.) I steered well clear of it myself. Past experience has taught me that I was never destined to be a rodeo rider – I’m one of those people who can be thrown from the machine before it’s even started moving.
The kids, however, loved it. They each had a couple of turns on it and proved to be fairly adept – or, at least, not completely inept. Each of them picked themselves up after being unseated with a big grin on their faces. And Kara, despite being the smallest of our three, put her gymnastics skills to good use and stayed glued to the saddle for the best part of 90 seconds.
She’ll be wanting a pony next. Maybe that’s what I should have bought her instead of spending all that cash just to win eleventy-thousand bags of Haribo.