Prizegiving ceremonies at school are a similar experience when you are a parent as when you were a child.
The event seems to last a long time. The tedium is punctuated by the odd, brief moment of excitement when little Norma (or someone loosely known to you) walks up to receive her book token.
Your mind starts to wander asking such important questions as: ‘What exactly did Christine Baverstock-Davis do to merit the award of “Outstanding effort in ‘resistant materials” ?’. Did she spend countless hours after school bashing iron, steel and rocks with hammers, mallets and pickaxes ?’ You start to wonder why your wife neglected to attend this years 3 hour marathon in stifling heat. Must remind her that it’s her turn next year.
Of course, as a parent, you feel immensely proud when your child steps up for their book tokens on three separate occasions (Exceptional Student, Effort in Food Technology and Surrey Schools Trampolining). In fact, you are so proud, you nudge your two immediate neighbours urging them to clap a little bit louder.
You furtively reach for those humourous red and white inflatable hands with England flags on and raise them aloft. As your offspring is carefully marshalled back though the aisles by a prefect to their assigned seat, they look absolutely mortifed, go beetroot red and whisper ‘Dad - put those down - NOW’.
Two hours later, just as the keynote speaker (first ever Head Girl from 1964) nervously steps up for the main speech, there is a kerfuffle outside as some ruffian runs past the open double-doors singing ‘Ole - Ole - Ole - Ole. Eng-LAND. Eng-LAND’. You smile to yourself as six teachers simultaneously arise from their seats and run menacingly (while skillfully appearing to be walking fast) to identify and silence the culprit (using force).
You decide to seek the individual out later, give him a lift to hospital and reward him with the inflatable England gloves.
After the event, you are once again immensely proud when your child tells you:
‘Dad - when Alistair Barnstormworth did that stupid singing outside, I started to laugh. When I looked round. you were the only mum or dad in the whole hall of 700 people who was also laughing.’