30 June, 2006

Curie sweeps Sports Day!

Yes, after early minor disasters like forgetting the Blue Shirt that would identify Avery as a Curie house member, and the school's not letting her bring her picnic lunch to the park, Curie rallied and brought home the Sports Day trophy! It was a truly glorious summer day in Regent's Park, perfectly blue skies, the nice fresh green of June leaves before they've been robbed of their glory by traffic smog, here in our urban paradise. I hadn't realized the extent of the competitive spirit among the houses at King's College Preparatory School, nor the degree to which the fathers got involved. It was pretty funny to see them all in their proper business suits and ties, glued to their Blackberries and texting away, no doubt changing the course of British commerce as they did so, only to drop them on the grass and shout "Go Curie! Crush Nightingale! Send Franklin back where they came from!" whenever their precious sprouts in blue stepped up to the line. As you can see from Avery's expression, it was all about winning. Well, in fact she didn't, but Jade's father observed, "Not from lack of determination." It was a great day, watching the "rising threes" run their tiny little race, looking oddly random out of their uniforms, and the big Form Sixes throwing off their lordly big-kid attitudes to run their little hearts out. Mrs D moved regally among the crowds of parents, grandparents, teachers and kids, unmistakable in her suit of lovely pink flowers, admiring picnic items, chucking little siblings under the chin. Becky and Susan and I spread out our tartan picnic rugs with the cool rubberised backings, and everyone but Avery had lunch, hers reposing at school to be picked up later with Kate, the babysitter. I hate it when all my hard-won perfect plans get ruined by someone else!

Then I madly dashed to get to my last acting class (more on that later), then dashed home to meet up with Avery and Kate and show Kate all over the flat, giving her a sense of how to make things work, and especially how to take care of the kitties, when she housesits this summer. Then we had the ultimate healthy, delicious and quick dinner: lemon sole fillets dredged in herbed flour and sauteed, three minutes per side, in olive oil. I start with the skin side down in really hot oil, and then when I flip it over, I can easily remove the crispy skin that most people like, but sends shivers down Avery's spine. With rice it's the perfect, nearly instant dinner, and since John was at a business do of some kind, fish was a possibility.

Other than that, my life has been taken up largely by trying to sort out Wimsey's issues. I have a cat psychologist on retainer ONLINE, if you can imagine. We email back and forth about his behavior, our living conditions, his sibling relationships, you name it. So far her advice has been to provide him with a litterbox, food and water dishes, all his own. "How will he know they're for him?" I wondered, but apparently it's all about offering him the CHOICE. Whatever. If it keeps him happy... so this weekend we must acquire a new litterbox. Where to put it? I have no idea. Then, let's see, here was a bit of excitement: I realized that Avery's library books were either overdue or about to be, so I gathered up the pile and headed out, down Dunraven Street to Woods Mews and planned to make a right on Park Street. However, at the end of the road there was a police tape blocking off the street and a nice bobby manning it. "Sorry, love, you can't cross this tape," he said politely. "Why? What's up?" I asked. "Oh, a bomb in an attache case under a car." "EXCUSE ME?" I spluttered, as a lady walked up with a tiny irritating little dog on a lead. "I must get past here," she said bossily, "I'm meant to be meeting a friend at 101 Park." "Well, you can't, lady, because that's where the bomb is," the bobby said patiently. She huffed and puffed. "But I came out without my mobile so I can't tell my friend that I'm not coming," she said petulantly. "Considering the whole block is about to explode, I don't think it's an issue!" I said. I couldn't be bothered to take it too seriously, though, with overdue library books to consider, so I skirted the barrier and crossed Grosvenor Square, figuring the Embassy was probably the target and they couldn't get any closer. By the time I got out of the library, however, the barrier was gone and all the excitement over. Oh, well, next time.

TGIF, TGIF. I'm bringing Anna home from school with Avery, for the last sleepover of the term, before Anna heads to Scotland next week and we go to Connecticut. Today is the schoolwide Singing Competition, with Nightingale heavily favored to bring home the trophy. Poor Franklin loses everything. So I'm sure our walk home will be spiced up with stories of who forgot the words to what folk song, how strict Miss P is, whatever horror the official Commonwealth Judge chose to wear. Speaking of clothes, oh, dear, the Fashion Show was last night. What do you get when you put 120 hysterical girls aged 3-11 in a room with all their parents and grandparents and nannies and siblings and teachers, no air conditioning, and parade them up and down in various Victorian, hippy, flapper and medieval costumes? Did I mention no air conditioning? I would rather have stuck hot needles in my eyeballs, but by then I was pinned in the remotest corner of the room, miles away from Avery, much too close to several parents who had apparently been very hot with no air conditioning all day. Pretty gruesome. There were a few highlights: Anna looked completely the part of a glamorous 1930s starlet in a fur wrap, with perfect makeup. And of course the love of Avery's life, Ellen looked darling. The tiny Lower Kindergarteners came out in nightgowns with their teddies, which if we hadn't all been dripping with sweat and nearing the end of our oxygen supply would have been really darling. Oh, well, the admission charge goes to the British Red Cross. Next year maybe I'll donate the whole sum anonymously on the condition that there is NO MORE FASHION SHOW. Except when I said, "Next year let's get here early to get seats together," Avery objected, "But no, Mommy, next year I'll be IN the fashion show, I HOPE." Sigh.

On the way home, cooling off as we walked (contributing to that sense of false cleanliness you get and then forget to take a bath when you get home), stopping at the Waitrose in the high street for groceries. "Now, Avery," I said sternly, "I know burgers aren't your favorite thing, but I've been craving them and Daddy likes them too." "Awawah! They are disgusting!" she wailed. ""Be that as it may, your food tastes have been hijacking our dinner menu for months and years now. It isn't fair to have you dictate what we can and cannot have for dinner, is it?" "Well, no, I guess not." "Very well, then, let's do our shopping," I said, proud of myself for being so firm and reasonable. We got home with all our stuff and she went off to read her American Girl magazine, and then came into the kitchen to get her fruit bowl. "Look in the oven," I said. And of course there was a roast of filet mignon, her absolute favorite since she was a tiny child. I remember once she had been very sick with something or other, a rarity, and hadn't eaten properly in 10 days or so. When she got her appetite back, I told her she could have anything, absolutely anything she wanted for dinner. "Oh could I have that really bloody and expensive roast beast thingy?" I am such a sucker.

So I think as a reward for getting through an extremely busy week (studded with visits to various doctors to make sure I'm getting over this stomach thing; I'm much better), we'll take Avery and Anna to "The Lucky Spot" for dinner, getting home in time for the first match of the World Cup semi-final. It's gotten so pathetic, this newfound interest in football, that we actually know how many yellow cards the players have, and what substitutions might occur if so-and-so's thigh strain isn't better. Who would have thought! England play on Saturday, against Portugal. The governing body of the football teams are contemplating making a ruling that the players cannot do their traditional shirt-swap on the pitch, but must wait till they get to their lockers to do it. Why? The sight of all those ripped abs, be still my heart, is considered too risque for television. Awww, no fair!

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