On Saturday, the Princess’s school held its annual “fancy fair”. I understand that this is an event that takes place in all Belgian schools towards the end of the school year. There’s a concert, games in the yard, a bouncy castle, food and organised fun. I was at pains to explain to anyone who would listen that although the words “fancy” and “fair” do exist in English, the combination conveys nothing to the native speaker but, alas, I was ignored except for by the Princess who said to me crossly “it’s le fonzy fayereh Mummy, you’re pronouncing it all wrong”.
All of last month, we have been importuned by the school to assemble stalls, bring food, disassemble stalls and bring more food. The Princess made a costume for a medieval maiden and had dress rehearsals in the concert hall. Yesterday was the day of the “fonzy fayereh” and we were awoken by the sound of a thunderstorm breaking over the house. It poured all day. The bouncy castle was more of a bouncy swimming pool. Although the food was excellent (thereby pleasantly confirming my prejudices about the Belgians), food eaten while huddled in the bike shed of the school yard and staring at the pouring rain is just that bit less appetising than food partaken of in bright sunshine. Also, the boys’ buggy has broken. In particular, the rain cover can no longer be attached. The new buggy has been ordered but will not be available for at least two weeks (welcome to the consumer Mecca that is Belgium) so, to get tickets to purchase the food, I had to run across the yard in a gale pushing the buggy and holding the rain cover between my teeth.
Also the concert was not the success that I had hoped it might be. I went with the Princess to her dressing room to find a number of harassed staff trying to dress a number of wailing children. When I left her, as instructed by the harassed staff, she joined in lustily with the wailing majority. For her turn on stage, she was, for reasons unknown, right at the back and, therefore scarcely visible. I blame jealousy among the other students.
The day ended with a communal dinner which was scheduled for 6 but started at 7.30 by which time a lot of the younger participants were hyper or tetchy or, particularly appealingly, both. We managed to rock our saintly sons to sleep in their (somewhat damp) buggy but unfortunately, they were awoken almost immediately by the loud music that must obligatorily accompany organised fun of any kind (yes, I am old and bitter, is that a problem?). On the plus side the music was that of my youth. Princess watched in horror as her parents sang along to Simple Minds (Don’t, don’t, DON’T, don’t you forget about me.. and so on). A taster for her of what her teenage years will be like.
What with the excitement of the fonzy fayereh, Mr. Waffle missed the rugby. He had, however, recorded it from the French telly for later viewing. We had heard the result (Munster beat Biarritz, hurrah) so I asked him whether he wanted to watch it, now that he knew the results. “Yes” he said “it’s much better than waiting for an hour and a half for Munster to lose”. From my point of view, the highlight of the match was seeing an interview with Ronan O’Gara where, fresh from the fray, he speaks in French to the interviewer. His French is strongly accented, with a Cork accent, that is, but, frankly, let those of us without sin cast the first stone etc.. Mr. Waffle and I were very impressed with his vocabulary (we love to patronise) and I pointed out to Mr. Waffle that, since he had attended the same school as my brother, his French teacher was almost certainly my brother’s best friend’s mother (try to keep up here, I am giving you an excellent insight into what it is like being from Cork) and that she would be proud. Or at least, presumably, she would have been until the interviewer asked Ronan how the Munster men were feeling and he replied “Nous sommes très, très jolis.”