dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

SCHOOL RUN MUM by Emily Reed


Emily Reed of Latchford is in her thirties and loves to cosy-up on the sofa with a good rom-com from Blockbuster. She fancies the Scottish actor Gerard Butler, currently taking Hollywood by storm, but admits to not recognising him as the guy who played the washboard-stomached hunk in the action flick 300. “I liked the spoof version with Sean Maguire in much better,” she says.

Are you a mum with a kid in school yet? It was my little boy’s first day today. I was so excited and proud taking him in and kissing him and waving him goodbye, I think I embarrassed him. The noise and commotion at the school entrance in the morning took me back to when I was in school, which wasn’t that long ago really. I may be a young mum, but I’m not a statistic. I’m a good mum, willing to learn, to do whatever it takes.

There were plenty of other mums about once the kids had gone inside so I thought I’d wonder over to have a chinwag. Socialising has always been my strong point. Dump me in a party full of strangers and I’d still be the last to leave. Before I could take a step however I was called over by a heavy woman who was sat on a yellow grit/salt bin, away from everyone else. I found big girls to have nicer, kinder faces, and bubbly attitudes to go with them, more often than not. Big girl = big laugh. A lotta fun. Not this one.

She introduced herself as Ethel than promptly quizzed me on the spot about anything and everything so long as it had to do with my personal life. She warned me not to go ‘over there’ if I was unemployed. They could sniff joblessness if they were blindfolded. Even she, from twenty paces, could see my green label Smart Price Asda groceries in my transparent shopping bags. Was it still 3 for £2 on the toiletries, by the way? Did I ever choose my own 4 pizza toppings at the deli counter? Weren’t they just yummy with chilli oil and black pepper?

Plus, to head ‘over there’ in my George denims would be suicide. Anything less than Debenhams was mocking fodder. I should upgrade to Tesco at least, but I wouldn’t be able to con them with an M&S bag; stupid they were not. Could I see Rita there, leaning against her £14,000 run-a-round? Yeah? Well, Rita looked over other mums’ shoulders to find the ones she wanted to talk to. She would likely look straight through me, if I approached. Rita dished out a Monday rota for other mums to pick her ‘twin enfant terribles’ up whenever she couldn’t get back from her luxurious weekend retreats in time. See the hair on her too? Looked like she’d been dragged feet first through a tumble of barbed wire. Right snake in the grass, that one. Mind like a booby trap.

What about the lanky model Chantelle in the designer sunglasses with legs like a giraffe brainwashing a small group of four beside her husband’s gas guzzler, could I see her too? The epitome of greed, those Range Rovers were, nothing but extravagant spoils. Chantelle claimed her kid had the IQ of Stephen Fry and had been selected by the headmistress for the Gifted Child Register, when everyone from here to Atlantis knew that the snotty-nosed numbskull was about as intelligent as a boiled rock. Chalk eater, apparently, at the back of class. Wet his kecks as well. Poor mother was in denial, addled from all those glamorous model-lifestyle drugs.

I tried to say goodbye but Ethel butted in, explaining how all the mums fell out with her because she didn’t go along to their planned Mama Mia night at the cinema. Really petty like that, they were. Not that Ethel was bothered, as all they ever yakked about was parks, potties and nappies anyway. And they all hated each other, really. They were just putting a front on because they were all in the same boat. Just like me and her were in the same boat, she said! Their world, beneath the surface, was a pantomime of secret feuds, mind games, grudges, and rivalry.

Oh lookee here, it’s Dennis in his slinky joggers, who power-walked his daughter back and to every day, but in reality probably parked his banger two streets away to give that impression. Now his child was genuinely clever but she had nits and buck teeth, which was never a good combination. If Dennis was the jam though then these moms were the flies. Those joggers were so tight Ethel could determine his religious affiliation. I didn’t get that joke, but I think it might be to do with circumcision. He’d slept with the lot of them, so it wouldn’t be much of a revelation. Not bad going for a man who worked in Greggs the baker shop. Any old how, Ethel finally concluded, rising from the yellow grit/salt bin, I was lucky to have found a ‘real friend’ in her.

You know, someone who I could get along with.

© Emily Reed 2010

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