Sunday, September 13, 2009

Overheard at...

Overheard at the sports hall whilst signing up for tennis club membership.
A blond active-type woman, perfect golden tan, polo shirt and shorts is standing next to the tennis stand. She's obviously a regular, probably active member of the club, and she's talking to the people behind the table.
(in French)
"Well, I've just spent 1400€ on music lessons for the kids, and with you lot it'll be 2000€ and I've still got the gym to pay for too!"

That's a hefty sum, thought I as a signed a cheque for 150€ adult membership and licence, no lessons. When I had sat down at the table saying I wanted to renew my membership, the woman behind the table looked at me with surprise saying she didn't think she'd ever seen me before.

That's normal, said I, I hardly ever play tennis and I never go to the club. As I filled in the form, the guy next to her saw my surname and recognised it from the emails he sends out, so then I became legit and she started asking whether I played well. Heavens no, I'm crap, said I (and intend to stay that way), so if you're wondering whether I could be roped into joining a team, think again (or words to that effect).

Naturally she was a bit disappointed because they were looking for women for the team. She suggested I take lessons, but they are on a Saturday, and frankly, I'm involved up to my eyeballs with VTT and footie already for the boys and have no intention of adding to my obligations.

By this time, the sporty woman was talking about her kids and how the one in 5e who is in the most well-known private collège in Montpellier is working very hard because they get sooooo much homework. I piped up that my eldest goes to X private collège which is the nearest one to where we live and the alternative to the homework-heavy one. Where? she asked, obviously having never heard of it.

I thought this was pretty funny really. I mean, here is a woman who is so regulated by 'what one does' that when she was deciding on her kids' schooling she didn't even reflect on the different options because, as far as she was concerned, one sent one's kids to X collège willy nilly.

All this made me think of an article in the Times recently, from Alpha Mummy about after school clubs and the necessity of indoctrinating one's offspring from a young age in the leisure pursuits of the upwardly mobile. Future private club members are made, not born!

My two are curiously averse to the idea of conforming to doing the 'right' activities. Although my eldest learnt the violin for a few years, as soon as he hit 10 he said it was for sissies and wanted to take up the electric guitar instead. He did, but had an uninspiring teacher who was a classical guitar teacher, and in the end let it drop. He may take it up again later - I didn't get rid of the kit.

My youngest was sent to music appreciation classes when a tot where they get to bang about a lot, make instruments, sing and have a jolly time. When it came to deciding on playing an instrument, he said, no way I hate music. Violin? said I hopefully. No. Piano? No. Drums? (last ditch attempt) No. Some success that course was, then.

I sent my eldest to tennis for a year. He couldn't stand it. He likes playing tennis, but doesn't like lessons and being bossed about.

When asked what he wanted to do, he said, 'fencing'. I drew the line at taking him into the middle of town on a week day evening in rush hour traffic, one hour in, one hour out. He can do that when he's older, in his own time, at his own expense!

Last year I forced him to do a sport and to much moaning, he finally consented that mountain biking was the least unattractive of all the sports on offer. My youngest joined as well and in fact both had a great time. They are signed up again this year too.

My youngest is pretty easy to please, he likes footie, but he'd also love to learn archery. Both would like to learn to shoot.

I think it's a very good sign that the boys have a healthy aversion to conformity. What this country needs is free-thinkers, original minds and doers, not robotic copies of 'les petits parfaits' as my eldest so contemptuously labels the fils à papa who do all the right things, work as they should, and wear perfectly pressed shirts and trousers which stay that way all day.

Which reminds me, I'd better get on with the ironing...


  1. "A blond active-type woman, perfect golden tan, polo shirt and shorts" ... you mean that that isn't you ????

    Bon anniversaire anyhow - you're still waay young!

  2. Thanks, Michael, you're a pal!


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