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An annual conversation

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Here I am at the Fairfield Halls. At this very moment Miss DD is in her rehearsal and the Boywonder is waiting in a green room to start his. I arrived here at 10.30 this morning and have been ferrying the offspring to and fro since. I’ll now be here until about 10.30 this evening.

I’ll do it all again tomorrow for the fourth or fifth year running – I’ve lost track – of the annual Bromley Youth Music Trust showcase concerts.

Some years they show off the work of children in Bromley’s primary schools, Last year was a chance to see a diversity of children, from music therapy for children with disabilities to the top bands who compete internationally. This year the Trust is sharing the efforts of its ensembles. Tomorrow, for a change, I’ll actually be on stage taking part with the adult choir.

Every year we parents wait patiently for our offspring in the foyer in this photo. People who meet rarely are forced together for this annual event. And they invariably have the same conversation as last year: which exam grade their child is on; which ensemble they are in; how they disagree with the judgements of the Trust’s teachers; how well their respective offspring are doing at school. Three women, and it is usually women, will sit having three separate conversations at each other, rarely listening to the other two. It is often bitter, the aggression veiled.

The oneupwomanship is worse, I find, the further the child rises in the organisation. Usually, but not always, the cream of the cream are either at Bromley’s two elite super-selective schools or the offspring of musicians. Occasionally, as in our case, the children are at posh schools renowned for their emphasis on music.

A veteran of competitive suburban parenting and, indeed, of Asian families, I am habituated to this oneupwomanship. I do, however, find it rather sad that, on International Women’s Day of all days, these women can only seem to communicate with each other by scoring points.

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