The School Gate Posse

As many of you know I was a full-time working mum.  So I rarely did the school run, and a lot of the other mothers didn’t realise I was my brood’s mum!  Then, the days I did make it were often excruciating, because I didn’t fit into any of the groups of mums, and I had to endure “the school gate posse”…. “Oh hello, have you got some form of ID on you?” and other such hilarious quips were thrown in my direction by perfectly coiffed mothers waiting to collect their perfect little darlings.

I breathed  a huge sigh of relief once child 3, Master Chef, was old enough to manage the short walk to primary school with his best friend, and I could wave him goodbye from the garden gate. On the rare mornings  I was home.

Never once did it cross my mind that years later I would once again be running the gauntlet of the aforementioned “School Gate Posse”

But, yes… For the past 4 years I’ve been responsible,2 or  3 days a week, for safely depositing my 2 gorgeous grandsons at pre school and school while my daughter does her bit for the NHS.

.Things haven’t changed very much! Though these days there are quite a few grandparents doing the school run, as working mums are more the norm now. I was considered a bit of an oddity.

Oh, and most of the teachers look as though they are work experience students from one of the local senior schools!

The boys go to the their local village school… A school with over 310 pupils and each year having 2 classes of between 26-30 pupils each.

E is in year 4, and lines up in the playground to go into class, but O, in year 2, still has to be escorted into class in the morning. In the afternoons they’re both met from O’s class.

At first many thought I was the boy’s mum… E and O took great delight in insisting on calling me mummy. Very loudly. And I would get “that” look from passing mothers.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some lovely mums there,Who are friends of K.  And I’ve become quite friendly with them.. We chat, go for coffee some mornings if we’re not busy. And ferry each other’s children in emergencies.  And there’s 2 who now always join K and I at what has become our annual trip to ladies evening at the local race course!

So who makes up the posse?

Firstly there’s the 4×4 brigade. Who, invariably, only live a 15 minute walk from the school, but couldn’t possibly walk. And they park anywhere they see a spot. With total disregard for the safety of their own, or anybody else’s children. On double yellow lines, the zig zag lines of the zebra crossing, blocking local resident’s drives. Every so often the police come and patrol, dish out  a few verbal warnings. Even give the odd parking ticket. Put up big banner say school gates warning people of the dangers. Then for a day or two things quietened down, but soon it’s back to the normal chaos. It is a disaster waiting to happen.

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Next, we have the gym mums.  They arrive in full on Lycra and running shoes. iPods strapped to arms, water bottle firmly clutched in hands. But they seem to spend most of their time discussing their latest ‘PBs’ and “you’ll never believe who I saw at the gym yesterday” To actually running. I did consider purchasing some running gear but the boys said they wouldn’t walk to school with me if I did!

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Coming up close behind the gym mums are the yummy mummies. Looking like they’ve just emerged from the local beauty salon. Beautifully dresses, high heels, perfect makeup, not a hair out of place… And their little charges in immaculate uniforms and shiny shoes. How do they manage it??

Then there’s the mums who are dropping their little ones off before going to work ( though I have to admit, some days I fall into this category). They stand, well, pace, outside the classroom. (If they haven’t shooed them out of the car and driven off in a haze of exhaust fumes) Constantly checking their watches/phones (parents are asked not to use mobile phones in the playgrounds), and bemoaning the fact that the teachers are getting later and later letting the children into class. Then pushing their way past everyone once the door is opened, because they’re going to be late for work.

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Then, of course, there’s the “I just need to speak to you Miss about something” ones. It’s the same ones every time, or seems to be. Little Johnny/Matilda has too much/ not enough homework/Has made you a present/written you a story. My daughter or I rarely need to speak to O’s teacher, but on the odd occasion I have , I’ve given up as I haven’t been able to get within 15 feet of “Miss”

And, finally, there’s the formidable ones gathered by the school gate, who, having dropped off their precious little ones, have to group together and have a good old bitch about everyone and everything!! “did you see what she was wearing/did you know A’s dad is now living with B’s mum/how did C’s boy ever get to be a school councillor”

You can feel their eyes boring into you as you squeeze your way past, and you just know you’re the next topic of conversation.

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And then there’s me…. Usually running late, harassed from doing battle with traffic on 40 minute  journey to daughter’s, and being stuck in traffic for 20 minutes. No make up. Jumper on inside out ( don’t ask!) And realising we’ve forgotten homework/dinner money/glasses.

Hey ho… There’s only another 4 years and they’ll both be at senior school and I’ll be relieved of my duties. But, of course, by then son1 and DIL will provably have produced and I’ll be taking theirs… On my Zimmer frame!

 

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The Soundtrack Of My Life

I’ve  kind of lost my blogging mojo lately. It seemed to happen as I said I would try to blog every week!

I have  racked my brain to come up with something interesting to blog about,  to no avail. Or it’s been too personal to share. Even those helpful prompts left me totally uninspired.

Then, earlier this evening one of my Twitter friends posted a tune, one that was very special to me. And, suddenly all these tunes came rushing into my head. And the memories with them

So, please bear with me while I share some of them with you

1. Itchycoo Park . The Small Faces
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This was the first single I ever bought for myself. I still have it somewhere, along with the iconic Ogden’s  Nut Gone Flake LP. The Small Faces were my first ‘group crush’  Sadly, all but one of the original group have all died now.

2. Without you. Harry Neilsson

This was ‘First Love’ and mine’s song. If any of you have read my blog about First Love you  will know he wrote to me declaring his love for me. He had included all the lyrics of the song in the letter… Which I didn’t get until about 3 weeks after he’d written it!

And do you remember the record shops where you could go in and sit in a booth to listen to the songs before you bought them?.. ..(yes, I am that old!) Or, if you were broke, you just sat there for ages listening to songs without buying a thing! Anyway, we used to go in and listen to Without You whenever we went into town … And he bought it for me. And yes. I still have it!

3. Here Comes The Sun. The Beatles

I was never really a Beatles fan, but my room-mate in my first Nurse’s Home was. And she had a record player. J was my first room-mate, and became a life long friend. We still laugh and giggle like teenagers when we get together. We played this song nearly every night, getting ready to go out, or while we were getting ready for bed. We both knew all the words.. And would quite often fall asleep with it still playing!

4. Hound Dog. Elvis Presley

At my first training hospital we had a ‘recreational hut’ in the grounds, where we could go for coffee or to socialise in the evenings. It also had big blackboards in there, and when we were revising for exams we would often go there and draw diagrams etc on the board. Anyway, there was a very old record player in the hut… And 2 records!! One of which was Hound Dog. It used to be played on repeat…. Until one day it mysteriously disappeared. Never to be seen or heard again

5. Maggie May. Rod Stewart

J and I went to Bournemouth to see Rod Stewart and The Faces just as  Maggie May went to number 1. Because we couldn’t afford to stay in B&B and the coach fare, we decided to ‘thumb’ to Bournemouth. I can hear you all sighing now, but it was a quite acceptable ( and safe) form of travelling in the 70’s, and all part of the adventure. The concert was brilliant, we got autographs, and the B&B was pretty good

However, on this occasion it ended in disaster as we were involved in a serious road accident on the way home the day after the concert. Caused, apparently, by a lorry driver changing a cd. J and I both went through the windscreen … There were no compulsory seat belts…  But luckily neither of us were seriously injured. I remember being very upset that the heel of my boots came off, and I’d only bought them a couple of weeks earlier on the Kings Road.

Unfortunately, the driver of one of the cars suffered serious spinal injuries, and never walked again. J and I were in the ambulance with him. It was very distressing. A very kind policeman drove us back to Plymouth when we’d been checked over and discharged… And we never told our parents!

But, for ages afterwards, whenever Maggie May came on the radio I would black out. I guess you would call it PTSD nowadays

6. I Can See Clearly Now. Jonny Nash

This song came out as I got my Orthopaedic finals results. It was a tense day. I was working at an outreach clinic at a hospital 25 miles away from my base,  and couldn’t get my results until I got back. No mobile phones or Internet to get them from in those days. I didn’t get back until 4 ..And you had to go and see your tutor to get the results. There was a buzz going around the hospital because someone had failed. The first for 16 years! I met a few of my set as I was making my way to the tutor’s office, and they had all passed. So I had convinced myself it was me who’d failed. I knocked on the door and was invited in by Mr H. “Ah, come in Eileen. Have a seat” he said. Yep. That was it. It was DEFINITELY  me who had failed. I was almost in tears.”Well” he said.. “How do you think you’ve done”? he asked “I’ve failed haven’t I” ? I shakily replied..  “No. You’ve passed. With distinction ”

Well, I could have hugged him.. But that wasn’t the dome thing

Off we all went to celebrate at our local hostelry. I Can See Clearly Now was playing on the juke box and we were all singing it. Very loudly. It was very apt. Though the edge was taken off our celebrations by our friend who had failed. We all felt really bad for her.

7. Pick up The Pieces. The Average White Band

This was a big dance tune in the clubs and discos when I frequented them. One night there was a dance competition in a one of the clubs, and my friend and I decided to take part. The prize was a year’s free admission to the club with your first drink free each time. Now, I’m not a great dancer but always enjoyed getting on the dance floor and having a good ‘boogie’

Well.. Surprise Surprise… I won.. Dancing to this song!

8. Nathan Jones. The Supremes

I heard this song one night but didn’t know what it was called.. Then didn’t hear it again for ages… Then J and I were in Bristol and we heard it and discovered what it was and who it was by. We then spent ages trying to find a record shop, and getting hopelessly lost in St.Paul’s, to buy it. I always said if I had a boy I would call him Nathan. I was overruled the first time, but put my foot down when our second son was born and had my own Nathan

9. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Carol King

This was, and still is, one of my favourite Carol King songs. Back in the hazy days of student nursing, most Sunday nights we would go to a pub where there was live music. Mostly folk. One Sunday the singer had let them down, and after few drinks I  was persuaded to go up and sing. So I did, and sang this song. And was offered a regular Sunday night slot! I couldn’t do every Sunday as my hours wouldn’t allow it, but I did a couple a month for about 6 months. It was great fun.

10. Come On Eileen.  Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Now, I love to hate this song! It has been the bain of my life ever since it was released. People still shout “Come on Eileen” at me

But the one time I shall never forget it being sung to me was the morning my daughter was born. It had been a long ( well, 9 months obviously, but seemed longer) and difficult pregnancy. It was also very much longed for as I had lost 3 babies previously, and was beginning to think I’d never have a child. ( even though, for those who have read previous blogs, originally I never wanted to have children)

The labour was long and tiring and they called in my consultant who said he Thought I should consider a Caesarean section. I really didn’t want one, so asked if I could try a bit longer. So there I was with a whole obstetrics tea, including the consultant and an anaesthetist who’d appeared from nowhere! And they were all singing “Come On Eileen” to me!! The horror was enough to encourage my daughter into the world without the aid of a section!!

11. So. Ian Gillan

This is a little known song that was written by Ian. He lives quite near me, and was friends with a singer/songwriter/playwright I have done a  lot of stuff with. We had recently put on a rock musical, and during the early stages Ian was at rehearsals and I had pleasure of doing some improvisation work with him.. Along with a few others. After the show was over S decided to,put on a concert of music from the Rock musicals he had written, and some of his other work. But we weren’t allowed to sing the songs  we’d sung in the shows… That wouldn’t have challenged us! I was lucky enough that Ian said he had a song I could sing. It was  beautiful, haunting ballad. I felt very privileged … And on the night of the concert Ian was cohosting, and introduced me! A night I shall never forget

I love how music can instantly take you somewhere and bring back so many memories, both happy and sad. The ones that instantly came to mind, and I’ve shared have all been memories of happy times. There were some that brought back some sad and unhappy memories too… But I’m not ready to share those, and you may not want to hear anyway.

Thank  you for indulging me

 

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