Friday, 11 June 2010

There's a ladder here somewhere, right?

Everyone who knows Grit knows that she home educates for social advantage.

This is, after all, how the otherwise word fell into law. To provide the toffs with an escape route from the tedious restrictions of school.

Grit has already done quite well, climbing up the social ladder of success, what with marrying a public school boy and sticking Tiger on the back of a horse.

There have been notable achievements too, like scrounging a paid year at Oxford and wangling an overnight stay in Windsor Great Park. And she totally denies it was spent smashed out of her skull flat out under a bush.

But, unfortunately, despite her best efforts, Grit has some crushing disadvantages which prevent her upclimbing mobility.

Like being born gutter class. Or remaining sullenly resistant to the charms of the upper English; finding royalty intensely annoying; resenting nineteenth century opera; despising matching hats and handbags; and possessing a history of running about the countryside with the hunt saboteurs. Stuff like that.

Now she home educates as well. That, in some eyes, puts us not with the gentry and the governesses at all, but outside all normal classy society. Forever.

But it doesn't stop her trying. Of course not, because she has the spur of the delightful Tiger, Shark and Squirrel. Three gracious daughters who, despite the failings of mama, must be launched upward. What if, in future years, her fragrant trio drag home some pond-dwelling little oink with tattoos and a pit bull?

So I must aspire, on behalf of my children.

Which explains why we fetch up here, this evening, at the National Trust Stowe landscape gardens for their graceful event, 'dining at dusk with string quartet playing from the temple of Concorde and Victory'.

The old lady gatekeepers clearly think something is wrong, because it takes five minutes passing the entrance ticket back and forth between everyone's fingers while they turn it over and over, peering at it for tell-tale signs of forgery. Grit and the gritlets obviously do not look like deferential National Trust dusk dining types.

And they may be right too, because once we're in, it is out with the plastic Ikea picnic plates, the value Tesco salad, and the wooden cutlery I nicked from Woburn.

When the strings start up, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger slap each other about a bit and then take off to throw themselves down a hill. I am left to be ignored by the charity muggers and eaten by a swarm of gnats.

Not quite successful then. But not a social disaster either. So maybe a start. This time we never had anything confiscated, we never resorted to weapons, no-one had a hysterical screaming fit, I did not wet myself,* and we had cutlery. In my book, that's social success.

* I freely admit to wetting myself in public in Stowe gardens, age 43. Thanks to my uncontrollable laughter during a decorous reenactment of English eighteenth century garden games. I thought it might be fun to strap the little grits Squirrel and Shark together in the three-legged race. They took one step, realised their sister was impeding the race, then splattered to the ground in a torrential downpour of tears, swinging fists and cries of blue murder. At the insistence of the captain I hauled them off the track five minutes later while they carried on brawling, still tied together. This was the day I accepted that one measure for social success, Team player, would never apply to la famille Grit.

1 comment:

sharon said...

l would have sat and listened to the music with you Grit. Used to go to the open air opera performances at Rochester when we were living thereabouts. My last appearance was for Turandot in 1997, still thin of hair post chemo, wearing a straw hat which slowly disintegrated in the torrential rain that ensued. Much of the audience wore stylish garments fashioned from black bin bags kindly distributed by the council workers there to keep order and tidy up. I enjoyed it all immensely.