Father's day

4th March 2005 at 00:00
Current affairs, music by the Scissor Sisters. Michael Cook finds assemblies have changed

I'm home alone. Not in the tabloid sense, where my feckless parents swan off to sunny Florida leaving me to cope on my own in the bleak midwinter.

Although, come to think of it, my parents have this week swanned off to Florida. (How come when they took me on holiday, it was two weeks in a caravan on the Isle of Wight?) I'm alone because the children and Mrs Henderson are in assembly. This has happened to me before. My own junior school teacher once left me sticking palm trees round a pyramid. She said I was a responsible boy and could be trusted. I ran amok round the empty classroom with a loaded staple gun, pretending to be a Cyberman.

As a parent-helper, of course, I really am responsible. I won't be shooting anything with stationery supplies. It would be ridiculous for me to sit on teacher's chair just to see what it's like to be in charge. And there's no way I will sneakily correct Poppy's spellings so she'll get top marks and pride of place on the wall. Oh, no.

In fact, I am now so responsible, I'd rather be in assembly. I believe it's changed a lot since my day. Then we marched in to Mozart, received a homily from the Bible and sang a rousing chorus of Pitter Patter Raindrops. Now, Poppy and Alfie inform me, the music comes from the Scissor Sisters (pictured). From wholesome classical prodigies to sleazy New York disco-revivalists in one generation. Cool. No doubt there's some kind of multimedia PowerPoint presentation to follow. Before the laser show.

And the children still get to learn things. Every time I mention an item of everyday interest at home ("Did you know it's Pancake Day this week?" "A Derbyshire woman has just sailed all the way round the world on her own"), I am drowned out by a chorus of "We already know that from assembly". To retain any credibility in my own house, I now offer topical titbits about two months in advance. (We've already celebrated Easter.) I only hope they don't shout, "We already know that from Daddy" when the head announces that Christian Aid Week is coming.

A buzz from the corridor (and a bar or two of FilthyGorgeous) means assembly is over. Mrs Henderson leads the children into class. I just hope she doesn't sit down. She might wonder why her chair is warm.

Michael Cook is a freelance copywriter and a parent helper at Ernehale infants school, Arnold, Nottingham, which his children, Alfie and Poppy, attend

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