Thank God it's Friday

1st August 1997 at 01:00
Monday: Our end-of-term barbecue run by the parent- staff association - of which I am the chairman - takes place on Friday.

We've booked the Irish ceilidh band and the clown, sampled more than a dozen kinds of sausages, decided on varieties of kebabs and vegetarian hot dogs, and sent out letters to parents. All that is left is to get a final figure on ticket sales and hope the weather improves.

Tuesday: It's pouring. Ticket sales are moving slowly, especially in the junior school which has two performances of Annie this week. I am beginning to panic . . . what if no one turns up and we are left with five pork loins, 250 kebabs, 200 sausages and enough wine to keep us tipsy well into the new millennium?

I am also beginning to realise that as PSA chairman you need all the skills of a Foreign Office diplomat in order not to poke the next parent in the eye with a kebab stick who says "What barbecue? I didn't get a letter."

Wednesday: It's still raining. I have now pinpointed the group of parents who like to give me daily "helpful hints" - they are the ones who can't make it on Friday. Today's helpful hint is that I should send all the parents another reminder.

A friend senses I am not giving 100 per cent to the job when I ask him "Will you buy 40 tomato and basil sausages off me if we don't sell them on Friday night?" My deputy is the voice of calm and optimism when I speak to her later, despite the fact that tomorrow she and another mother are spending the day threading kebabs.

Thursday: D-Day for quantities . . . quite a few tickets sold but will people pay on the gate? Today's helpful hint: "You should have made the ticket price cheaper in advance." We did. I drive to the market to pick up the sausages and buy vegetables. The rain trickles down the back of my neck as I haggle over cucumbers.

Friday: A steady drizzle. I'm convinced it will be a wash out - but still consult the school secretary over the bottle tombola. As she's a veteran in these matters, I take her advice that we need more bottles and hot-foot it down to the supermarket to buy some.

In the afternoon, mothers assemble to do the setting up. Where are the men, I wonder? By opening time, even in the rain, the playground looks suitably festive decorated with bunting and gazeboes.

Just as the Irish band starts, the rain lifts and the sun comes out. Parents and children start arriving in their droves. Two-and- a-half hours later there's not a scrap of food or drink left and the bottle tombola is empty. It's been a huge success. Of course I knew it would be - but I've quite a few helpful hints for whoever organises it next year.

Dorothy Stiven is a parent who lives in the London borough of Brent

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