3.Village survival, the school gates & no one likes a show off!

Welcome to my fictional blog, if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to look at my About page before you read on.

school gates

This morning I turned on my computer and opened a new Word document. A screen full of hideous, crappy whiteness appeared! – it was enough to make me promptly switch over to the internet. My Literary Agent, Rebecca wanted a synopsis of my new novel or even better a synopsis and the first three chapters – pronto. So I went onto Marks and Spencer and bought a black push up bra (enhance by 2 cup sizes!) followed by a stint on social media and a flick over BBC news. Finally I switched back to the gaping white Word document and felt my heart sink like an iPhone ‘dropped’ down the toilet by a toddler. Perhaps I should try and write something. Anything. So I typed – bloviate. I saw this word last night in a new thriller I was reading. I find myself disproportionally excited when I get to look up a new word in the dictionary. There is probably a name for my disorder. Apparently bloviate means – to speak pompously. Next I wandered off to make a cup of coffee and text Anna (my local-best-friend.)

Me: Whassup, didn’t see you at drop off. 🙂 x
Anna: Ben took them, I had to go over new figures with Thatcher Man:)) x (Thatcher Man is the super good looking bloke who is re-thatching Anna’s house).
Me: Ooh er, did he cast an eye over your figure?
Anna: No, much to my chagrin! Whassup at yours?
Me: Got Pamela-ed on way home after drop off. Will explain below.
Anna: Oh no, not Pamela-ed! Tell me more at pick up X ps Thatcher man looking partic tasty today in faded Levi 501’s whoop whoop ;)) xx
Me: Loving visualising that! I’d better do some work, over and out 😦 x
Earlier that morning I had indeed been Pamela-ed. Coincidentally and weirdly the word to bloviate was very apt and relates to the Pamela-ing! Yes, I’ve made Pamela into a verb. Let me explain:
I dropped Toby and Lottie off as usual this morning and I was just exiting the school gates when I was accosted by Boasty Mum – Pamela. Darn it. She seemed very up for chatting and as I had a 300 yard walk home (alone as there were no other Mums milling about to whom I could cling to like a life raft) – I knew she had the full 300 yardsworth to blast me with one of her legendary braggathons. Come one then! Do your showy offy worst…I can take it.…I’m bullet proof, nothing to lose, fire away, fire away etc etc (David Guetta -you’re a legend).
300 yards was more than enough apparently! I now know that her two daughters are both talented and gifted at school in like everything. I was informed that her oldest daughter Ophelia, is three years ahead in piano playing and that her youngest daughter Sophia will be riding her pony at the Horse of the Year show because she’s such an accomplished rider and – star of the local Pony Club. On a human level – that’s great, bravo etc etc.  But what Pamela needed to understand was – no one likes a show off, AND, only family members such as Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles and maybe (at a stretch) a couple of particularly good friends wanted to hear her magniloquent monologues about her kids. Pamela, you are a perpetual bore, every time I bump into you – you think it’s fine to ear shag me with your tedious parental boasting. No, I wasn’t brave enough to say that to her face- I’m all italics and no trousers!
So I slumped back in front of my computer with a mug of coffee and a large chunk of shortbread. I stared at my Word document with only the word bloviate on it. I managed to get grains of sugar from the top of my shortbread all over my keyboard while my mind began to wander about the other picker up-ers and dropper off-ers at the school gates. There was certainly a varied selection at my children’s school – of course there were the usuals: Sporty Mum (never knowingly under lycra-ed). Glamorous Mum (never knowingly under make-up-ed,) working Mum (never knowingly under stressed and trouser suited) and late Mum (never knowingly on time!) But the school gates are no longer just the domain of Mums. There are the stalwart Grandparents and the Aunties/Uncles as well as the ever increasing Dads………..

1, There’s the gobby Mum, who always has something to say or go-off-on-one about in the playground (you find these in all year groups usually).
2, The jolly occasional Dad, who quite enjoys pick up because it’s a novelty! Likes a bit of banter with the Mums and tries to make them laugh. Crap jokes – they’re just humouring him!
3, The really quiet Mum with the awkward body language, who looks like she wishes she could be anywhere else; like having a smear test, attending a funeral, or amputating her big toe with a pizza wheel. There might be a few of these Mums.
4, The really popular Mum, who has crowds of other Mums circling her like a synchronised swimming team (again you might get one for each class). Swimming caps not required.
5, The vague Aunty who doesn’t know what she’s doing. Often wears something orange and floaty with oversized beads and a vacant look on her face. May be joined by an even vaguer Uncle.
6, The co-parenting Dad who has got his sh*t together and stands about confidently with hands in his pockets. He can take it or leave it with the whole chatting to the Mums thing.
7, The put upon Nan, who does lots of pick ups and feels like she’s already done her fair share of school runs  – when her kids were small. Always tutting and flapping her arms about. Likes a good whinge with anyone who’ll listen.
8, The other school-run Grandparents – who are steadfastly quite cheerful, bless them.
9, The needy Mum who stands as close as possible to the teachers at the gate, loves to hijack their attention so she can glean any snippets of information about her child(ren).
10, The Mum who owns a fleece in every colour, and in different thicknesses for all seasons.
11, The Mum who brings her daughter to school on a horse – actually I think that’s just in our village. Likes a pair of hair covered faded pink jodhpurs and letting her horse poo outside my house. On a daily basis.
12, The professional Mum who has so many kids in her charge that no one’s sure if they’re all hers or if she’s also working as a child minder. Very likely to bash you on the ankles with a buggy accidentally on purpose.
13, The posh Mum – who’s a bit posh for some reason.
14, The Mum who has very brightly dyed hair. Any colour, each to her own.
15, The Mum who gets dressed in the dark. Looks like she’s been dipped in glue, fallen in an EC clothes mountain and staggered out again.
16, The tracksuit Mum who wears it for any occasion, be it the Christmas Play, Parent’s Evening, Sports Day or general attire.
17, The preppy Mum who always looks as fresh as a daisy – Daz white, and often spotted wearing a jaunty neck scarf! Always very patient with her kids.

neck scarf copy
18, The Retro Mum/Aunty who might have a 1970s look or a 1950’s vibe with a rockabilly dress. Funky fringe and red lipstick often included. Would rather be at a festival somewhere.
19, The born and bred Mum whose family has lived in the area for generations – her fore-bearers probably built the school out of wattle and daub with their bare hands and the Interloper Mum who has recently moved in locally and will never (ever) be accepted – just kidding(ish).
20, You might even have the – twin anorak Mums, these are two Mums who have the same bold patterned anorak but aren’t bothered that they have a raincoat doppelganger.
21, And of course, last but not least, bringing up the rear is – the boasty Mum who can drop a brag into any old conversation. Pamela, in my case.
My mobile brought me back to the present with a jolt when a text alert pinged loudly, it was Anna.
Can you meet me and newbie american mum Lorelle in the pub at 1:30pm? Just bumped into her in shop and she’s v homesick so I suggested pub xx 🙂
Me: I’m in, c u there xx 🙂
Fabulous, I had a legitimate excuse to skive off because it did seem like an emergency!
Before I conclude about the school Mums, l should probably say which Mum I am. Well, it’s fair to admit I probably embody most of them in some small way! I’m sometimes the annoying sporty one in my running gear – I do a 2km jalk (jog/walk) around the village – lets not get carried away, and I occasionally get death stares if I’ve got glammed up for lunch out or something. But equally I can be the one in the multi seasonal fleece (that covers my bum). Sometimes I’m the chatty sociable – full of cheerfulness Mum. And sometimes I’m the misanthropic Mother – eyes down – rushing in at 3:29pm, fantasising about amputating my big toe with a pizza wheel rather than standing in the playground and having to ‘chat’.
When I arrived at the pub at lunchtime, Anna and Lorelle were at the bar ordering drinks, and we found a cosy table by the open fire. I had only spied Lorelle across the playground, so this was the first time I’d met her properly. She was very wholesome and definitely All American. If it had been warmer weather she probably would have had a jumper (sorry sweater) thrown over her shoulders. She had a really cool East Coast accent which had not been remotely Anglicised by living in the UK – I loved it! Even though Lorelle was obviously feeling very homesick she still managed to sound like she’d just won a million bucks. She told us she had been raised in Manhattan, had relocated to London and lived in Wimbledon for the last eight years – which she had loved but her husband Dylan had pushed for the move to Vertonbridge and the countryside. I immediately diagnosed Post Traumatic move to Devon Disorder – which made her giggle, then I got American effervescent laugh-envy. Lorelle told us that her daughter Rumer was settling in at school just fine, it was her – who was climbing the walls already!
We had all ordered Ploughman’s Platter which arrived on swanky wooden slabs as thick as your arm. The Huntsman Inn liked to make an effort with it’s culinary presentation but still offered scampi and chips in a basket which was reassuringly and comfortingly old school. Simultaneously, we all moved the giant pickled onion to one side and continued chatting as we ate. There was a months worth of stilton on my slab of wood – why do pubs always over cheese their ploughmans?
Lorelle started lots of her sentences with “Oh my gard …..”
“Oh my gard, I was talking to the lady who owns the village store and she said – Ahh yes, you live in the Jago’s house, and I was like, yes but it’s our house now, and she was like – yes but the Jagos have lived their for twenty two years so you’ll probably find that the locals will keep calling it the Jago’s house for some time to come! And I was like – seriously!”
“Buckle up,” I said, “I’ve lived here for 5 years and apparently I’m still living in the Skinners’ house.”
“How do you guys cope?” she asked seemingly perplexed, “I’m already feeling like I’ve been dropped into a whole new world.”
“You have! But you’ll get used to it,” Anna offered cheerfully, “Hey, you might even grow to like it! We accept all you interlopers……eventually! By the time your fifth Great Grandchild is born the locals might be calling it your house instead of the Jago’s!” Anna was a Devoner through and through, loved living there to the bones and as such was a very good advert for the county. She was very welcoming without banging on about her fore-bearers building the school with their bare hands.
“And oh my gard, where do you people go to workout around here, I need to be able to get to a gym. I had to drive like a half hour to hit an A road.”
Anna and I were at a loss, we weren’t frequenters of the gym. Anna exercised by walking Binky the dog and I did my regular jalks around the village.
“Exeter is probably your best bet,” I suggested, “mind you, that’s a bit of a trek just for the gym, it takes about 50 minutes by car.” We made plans to take her there; we could show her the big gym on the out skirts of the city, then the shops (the bright lights!) and go for a coffee. We picked a day the following week.
Lorelle welled up, “You guys! like, thank you for being so kind!”
“It’s ok,” I said reassuringly, after all I had been a newbie myself, “stick with us, you’ll be just fine!” and then “ Oh sh*t, we’re late for pick up!” and we had to leg it through the village at break neck speed to get to school. On the way Lorelle said “Oh my gard Anna, the guy working on your roof is soooo hot!” Anna and I could only nod and grunt in agreement because we weren’t able to run and talk at the same time. Perhaps Lorelle was going to be a new edition Sporty Mum/Mom. I could forgive her that!
So today’s motivationally inspirational words for life are – actually I don’t really do those but: I do hope – no one bloviates in your direction today!
More next week.
As you were.
PS. This months Vertonbridge Parish Magazine headline : Is your dog fouling on All Saints Lane? PC Dawn Brent investigates.
PS I’m going to write loads tomorrow……..
Note to myself: The one about being Pamela-ed, not doing any writing, summing up the characters at school pick up and lunch with newbie American Mum Lorelle.

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