Author: msalliance

Darling Daughter’s Homework: A School Gate Scenario

I was standing at the school gate dismissing the children when a humorous sight caught my eye. I ignored it for a while, until all the children in my class were gone. Two mothers of extraordinarily bright children were talking to each other. About what I could not tell, but I knew there was some sort of conflict between them. Their arms were crossed, they had their noses in the air and their eyebrows were raised. They smiled at each other, though not with their eyes. They spoke in turn. Every time one spoke, the other faltered slightly. Their children came to them, they said goodbye and left. However, I saw sideways glances being cast. They came back because their children had forgotten their instruments. They re-started their conversation but getting louder and louder each time. I noticed pursing of lips, clenching of fists, grinding of jaws, furrowing of brows. This time neither of the mothers tried to hide their feelings anymore. Nostrils flared, spit flew, voices were raised, fists were shaken and it all stopped with one mother declared that her child was the ruler of the...

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The Rat Race starts early

Disclaimer: This post is largely about the situation in Independent Schools and will cause some gnashing of teeth. The results of the 11+ exams will arrive this week and my daughter will learn if she has a place at the school of her choice. She is, I have been told by nearly all of her teachers (the one exception is a story for another day) a joy to teach. She is academically bright and so diligent and tries to do her best at everything she touches. Her creative writing astounds me and even at Maths, her weakest subject, she’s not far from the top of the class. She is a ballerina and a blue belt at Judo. She is already a wonderful musician and can debate the hind legs off any equine. She is kind and funny and delightful. Any school should be crying out for her. But she is at a huge disadvantage in the school place race. Why? Because her father and I have refused to take her to be tutored. Unbeknown to me, however, the vast majority of her year have been going to extra classes in English, Maths and Reasoning. Some for a few months. Some for years. On top of all their activities. On top of their homework. Most of them surreptitiously. It is the same story across South London, apparently. At a recent...

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I’m not a beauty addict, but…

I’m not a beauty addict. There, I’ve said it. My mum, from a large, rural Indian family never wore make-up and has always been uninterested in fashion. And as I grew up, geeky and awkward, frightening off all the boys, I was convinced that THE CORRECT WAY for an intelligent feminist was not to wear make up or waste time with such fripperies as fashion. At university I constantly wore denim dungarees, yes, really. I didn’t wash my hair from week to week and some days didn’t even bother to brush it. I must have looked frightful. Years later I moved to Paris, where for Maman not to put her best foot forward with heels, a jacket and a full face for the school run at 8.00 is considered an insult to everyone. This is emphatically not an urban myth. So, now back home in Beckenham, new habits die hard and I have realised that looking nice doesn’t mean that one is not serious, after all. Generally I just like to find stuff that works for me so that I can look good with no fuss and then go off and do something more interesting. On days when I’m running errands, doing chores or walking the dog, spending huge amounts of time perfecting a polished business look is just silly, but I do find that a touch of natural...

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Good morning sunshine!

Today is THAT day isn’t it? The day that we long for over the cold dark winter months. The day when we finally awake to a clear, starry sunrise and the promise of a sunny day to come. The day when we are reminded by Nature just how lucky we are to live in a temperate climate. It’s easy to forget as we trudge around the grey, muddy January fields walking dogs in the freezing rain and biting wind. But today we can wipe away those wintry memories with the optimistic promise of Spring, just around the corner. There have been snowdrops on my front lawn for some weeks now but I’ve just taken a short run with the dog through Beckenham Place Park and purple crocuses are already in flower on the golf course by the Mansion. Pausing for a moment to catch my breath, the wide sweep of still naked trees appears to carry the hint of incipient greenery. It’s as though everything has been poised awaiting the first sunny, vaguely warm day. Today. Birds chirrup away and a Woodpecker has been drilling noisily (as have my next door neighbours’ workmen) for a week. No doubt in Finsbury Square office workers will be sunning themselves in their skimpy tops this lunchtime. Hooray for Spring. And no, we don’t wish to know about the return of the cold...

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Today I walked the dogs at Farnborough common

Today I walked the dogs at Farnborough common

Today I walked the dogs at Farnborough common. It was very chilly indeed. And I cleaned the floor, finally! Looking forward to choir tonight. Making this:

I Have A New Phone With A Lot More Memory Should

I have a new phone with a lot more memory. Should be interesting.

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