Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Learned at school 

Everything you need to know about life, you learned in the playground. Of course you don't figure that out for another 30 or 40 years. Maybe as parents we can learn from kid related dilemmas. Let me give you an example.

Son no. 1 goes to the local school. It's a lovely school, but is not really big enough to support extensive facilities, and seems to be teetering perpetually on the margins of viability. The trouble is that many of the friends he has made in the past few years, with parents that we have become friends with, are now leaving to go to other, bigger, richer schools with better prospects. We've got options, and in the background is always the possibility of moving. It makes it harder to commit and to make the most of where we are now.

This blog is a Alex cartoon, and in frame four, we find out that I'm talking about moving country not school. The same things apply: looking across the mountain to see if the grass is greener, are the prospects better, is it a better place to be? There is a nervousness about being the last one left: leaving it too late and being unable to move. Then the human factor - the stickiness of relationships; all the things that made it hard to leave the UK on the first place.

In the meantime, they have just painted the road each side of the school gates. In pragmatic egalitarian fashion it mixes Afrikaans and English, so it says both 'ahead' and 'voor' on each side. It splits the two words for school, so one side reads "skool ahead voor". Three English parents have been run over this month already taking photos that crop out the 'voor'.

Tie me down 

Just over a year since my last post. Nice going. I felt like blogging again, since blogs are the new facebook - or something - and decided to read what I last wrote before I started. Valentine's day last year was the last time I wore a tie - at that board meeting in Gaborone - until the same date this year. This time it was a bow tie.

We Poms are inclined not to take things too seriously, which is a fine and excellent way of doing things. The balance to this tendency seems to be that we take seriously some things that the rest of the world doesn't really get: cricket, making tea, evening dress. Sometimes this offers opportunity.

My current boss, who happens to be English, invited me to a black tie function on Saturday night to schmooze with some clients. He is always impeccably and fashionably dressed, although without that ragged edge of scruffiness that betrays the upper classes. I was in a cafe with him the other week when another bloke asked him where he got his jeans. That never happens to me. I had a sneaking suspicion, therefore that how I dressed would be very important.

About 15 minutes before he left home, I SMS'd him: "do you think I have to wear a tie with my suit?". His response was something like "it's black tie, but in South Africa that's open to interpretation". The missus and I donned our finery and toddled along, Bertie Wooster style. The boss saw me:
"You're in black tie!"
"Of course"
Apparently my SMS had had the intended effect, on both him and his wife, who thought I was very unprofessional. His response had been 'but he went to Durham, he should know better'.

Only later did I feel disgruntled that he thought I might not wear evening dress to a black tie function. Wanker.

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