Open all hours
I was enjoying a cheeky lunch up in town with another mother from the school and over a bottle of crisp Chablis, she steered the conversation round to sex. She divorced last year, is younger than me and very attractive – big hair, big handbag, very confident, you know the sort – and she stated, without any apparent embarrassment, that she had slept with 23 men, mainly thanks to Tinder. Then she looked me in the eye and said: “How about you?”
When I was growing up – I went to Benenden in the eighties – I was led to believe that with romantic entanglements, a lady should always round down, rather than up. Plus, not having slept with anything like that number, I found myself feeling rather like an international hockey player on a long run of failing to find the net.
So I blushed and stammered, “my, you have been busy since the divorce,” before rambling on, justifying why I had only slept with four men, mainly long ago, including my husband. By the end of this I was feeling about as desirable as Vanessa Feltz after a half-price night at Domino’s.
Oh, what should I have replied?
Answer: Simply this: “How’s the fish?” Or if over pud: “How’s the tart?” If your friend wants to behave like a 24-hour convenience store – open all hours – that’s her affair, but the rest of us can be just as happy curled up in jim-jams with our beloved Kindles.
When I collect my 13-year-old son from his private school in Sussex, he is always in a complete grump because of my car – a four-year-old Fiat 500. One of his friends is collected in a Ferrari, another in a Bentley, and there are enough Range Rover Vogues to fill the Balmoral Estate. He has even requested that in future I park around the corner or use the service entrance.
I explained that forking out £20,000 a year on school fees – plus the class skiing trips, etc – means I don’t have money for a swanky car. To which Harry replied, “Why did I have to be born to a family of peasants?”
And if my son is not bad enough, there is a dreadful mum, Russian, who always arrives at the school gate late, spreading gravel to the four winds, in a pimped-up white Range Rover Sport with blackened windows. My son is friends with her son and she said to me yesterday: “As your real car is presumably in the shop and Harry does not like that little thing the garage has lent you, would you like me to drop Freddie home this week?” I was speechless. I didn’t want to be rude, but how can I explain that, in England, smartness is not all about money?
Answer: Car politics at the school gate is one of the major social problems of the age. My husband went to Eton and he has never quite recovered from the shame of his mother collecting him at the end of every term in a Morris Marina coloured a rather fetching shade of dog’s diarrhea – and you won’t find that on the Farrow & Ball paint chart.
Next time you are walking past this Russian mother’s car, make sure she is in earshot and then declare to no one in particular and very loudly: “A lot of folk in the demolition trade seem to have acquired enough money to send their children to this school lately. Maybe its time to send Harry somewhere smarter.”
Meanwhile, I have the perfect gift idea for Harry’s birthday: a bus pass.
Gunning for it
My daughter is just 17 and wants to invite her boyfriend back home to spend the night. I am beside myself. I have heard on the grapevine that since the age of 16 several girls in her school – a highly competitive grammar just over the border in Kent – have been giving their boyfriends (gulp, here goes…) sexual pleasure by way of the mouth. Apparently among the younger generation – and Bill Clinton – this does not count as sexual relations. Indeed, I hear it is regarded much as we might have a snog and a quick rummage at the back of the bike sheds. But she has until now always insisted she is a virgin,What should I do? If I agree, my husband will confront one pimply little expectant boyfriend with a 12-bore shotgun.
Answer: It is a thorny problem. A friend of mine refused and her daughter was later spotted testing the suspension in the back of her boyfriend’s VW Polo with go-faster stripes in the Asda car park. I mean, the shame. She hadn’t even the decency to try Waitrose. All that upbringing gone to waste.
Clearly you really need to try to talk her out of this, because although children are so much more street-wise these days, their emotional development is little further advanced than that of a pre-historic mollusc. But the worst thing you could do would be to sever that link between you that led her to confide in you.
If she insists, then make sure she sees a doctor about birth control first and understands that this is a momentous decision she is making: “Are you really ready for this, dear?” And maybe leave EastEnders playing, showing some fat woman of 23 with two children and several bags of crisps; it’s not a good look. But if that doesn’t work, before boyfriend appears, make sure your husband has downed several very large glasses of scotch – oh, and don’t forget to lock up the gun cupboard.
Tiger mother with rabies
I can’t believe how competitive the mums are at my daughter’s village primary. You can’t have a conversation without one in particular beginning: “Oh well, the thing about Jemma is…” and before you know it, that art project to stick some leaves on a piece of green paper with a few lines about the beauty of spring, has been elevated to a sure-fire winner for the Turner Prize.
And the lavish praise which she bestows on any achievement of her daughter – passing a successful stool is worth several gold stars, apparently – is matched by an amazing ability to put down “rival” children.
So when my daughter emerged from school with a model supposedly of the Great Fire of London (but which now looked like the piece of re-cycled Typhoo box it in fact once was until I stayed up half the night trying to construct it), the mother smiled patronisingly to me and said: “That’s really good for her. She has come a long way. You must be so proud.” I felt like punching her in her saggy, not-so-beautiful-now face, but found myself thanking her. Worse thing is, she has invited herself on our mums’ night out. I was looking forward to lots of drinking and talk, just for a few hours, about something other than children. What would you suggest?
Answer: Have a forfeit that any time a mother mentions her child in anything other than a derogatory manner, they have to down a shot. She will be plastered in no time. Then take her clothes and leave her tied to a tree, her modesty only protected by a sign that reads: “Crap Mum and Proud.”
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