I went to a meeting last week of my kids' school's Friends group - not strictly a PTA since there are no teachers involved, but as near as makes no difference.
Other Half disparagingly calls us Do Gooders, or the Moral Mothers of Meersbrook (the area of Sheffield where we live. There are a couple of dads involved too.)
It's a small group of parents who organise events to raise additional funds for school, and I have recently felt that I should show willing and get involved. This was a decision I began to regret, as the tortuous process of decision-making by committee ground on...
The obvious point to note is that, apart from the fact that we have all spawned/adopted kids, we have nothing else in common, and wildly differing ideas of what needs to be done, and how.
Let me run a couple of "issues" by you good people.
Should the treat from Santa at the Christmas Fair be;
a) chocolate coins (cheap, buy it in bulk on sale or return, OK for most though admittedly not every child)
b) a book of poetry?
The Collected Works of Ezra Pound for my 4 year old? Why, thank you, Santa!
We intend to ask parents to put the £2 for their child's Christmas disco ticket in an envelope with said child's name and class on the front. Is this;
a) a basic and reasonable request, achievable by most?
b) an complex task demonstrating middle-class bias by assuming all households have envelopes?
I kid you not.
So while I slowly lost not only the will to be involved, but to live, I amused myself by singing "Harper Valley PTA" in my head. I have loved this 1968 country classic by Jeannie C. Riley since I was a kid, though back then, I hadn't a clue what the lyrics were about.
For those unfamiliar with the song, it tells the story of a teenage daughter coming home from school with a letter summoning her cool young mini-skirted single mum to attend the PTA meeting, because they disapprove of her fast'n'loose ways -"It's been reported you've been drinking and a-running round with men, and going wild."
Mum attends the meeting, and socks it to them by pointing out that they are no better behaved than her - one's knocked up his secretary, several are drinkers, one's the local exhibitionist, one keeps harrassing her for a date.
So, I mused to myself, looking around the assembled Do Gooders - who's the secret drinker?
Who's having an affair?
Who wants to get it on with whom?
Who's the exhibitionist? (Err, that would be me.)
1960s mini dress (vintage fair, £8), 1970s scarf (flea market, £1), Jones lace-up boots (Ebay), hoop earrings (charity shop, 99p), wig (can't remember how much, but cheap, from Ebay). Pissing about instead of doing the housework - priceless.
Well, this is just a little Peyton Place, and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites.
Sing it, Jeannie!