James, the Middle of the Little Welsh Boys, had one question which he wanted his parents to take up with his teacher at the annual Pupil Progress Meeting. Why, when he tried so very hard every single day, had he never,
ever been awarded the Class Cup?
The teacher's answer, as passed onto me by My Boy when we spoke to each other courtesy of Facetime yesterday, was that James was
such a very good boy that he could have been awarded the Class Cup every single week since he started school last September. But, his teacher explained, the Class Cup was generally awarded to those who needed a bit more, well, encouragement. Now
I am a mild person, as those who know me personally will surely vouch, but this did make me boil a bit. How is a five year old supposed to understand that however hard he works the Class Cup will always go to somebody else? Isn’t it possible that
he might start to think that, perhaps, he isn’t good enough? Can that possibly be fair?
When my Foursome were at Infants School there was no such
incentive as a Class Cup. The nearest to it, I suppose, was the Class Hamster who, complete with cage, was entrusted to one pupil at the end of every week for the duration of the weekend. If you were really (un)lucky, you might get to take the hamster home
for the whole summer holidays. Most importantly, you didn’t actually need to have excelled at anything, or even been in need of encouragement, to be awarded Care of the Class Hamster. You simply needed to be the first to stick your hand up. The
Middle of the Darling Daughters, in particular, was especially good at this. If Form 1 in the Infants School had possessed the equipment to check for false starts, she would probably have been disqualified on almost every occasion. As it was, even before
the words were out of the teacher’s mouth, her hand would be straight up, waving fervently. “Doesn’t anyone else want to take the hamster home?” I enquired once, as I struggled to balance cage and its hairy occupant on the end of the
baby’s pram, ready for a somewhat scary walk home. “Their mums always say no,” was the answer, delivered with such a blissful smile in my direction that for once I thought I might be succeeding in the Mother Stakes despite my youth and inexperience.
However I never enjoyed the responsibility of looking after the hamster. My greatest fear was that it would die on me while entrusted to our possession. This was partly
down to the fact that the Youngest of the Darling Daughters liked to feed him on dolly mixtures but mostly just on the law of averages. Hamsters have an average life span of 2 – 3 years and he had been Class Hamster for a goodly while. Oh the deep
sigh of relief I breathed on Monday mornings when we delivered him back, safe and (for the moment) sound.
I do possess a cup of my own, by the way. I was awarded
it jointly with my Little Sister at the Youngest of the Darling Daughters’ 40th birthday party. It was awarded for “Best Use of Props” and we had earned it as a result of our enthusiastic pretend-playing of plastic blow-up
guitars, tuneful shaking of maracas and general ability to make use of anything around which could be considered a prop. Obviously because there were two recipients of the "Best Use of Props Cup", my sister and I have worked out a kind of unwritten rota
by which we each have possession of the cup for a period of around six months. We generally exchange it around about our birthdays but I think this year I may have held it for rather longer than is strictly fair. My sister is far too gracious to point this
out but when I see her next month, we simply must have an Official Handing Over of the Cup Ceremony. Incidentally the photograph illustrating today’s Daily Blog is of one of the occasions on which I took possession of the cup. You can see from
my flushed face that it was an emotional moment, reminiscent of an Oscar ceremony. I seem to remember I made a speech thanking my mother and father and everyone who had ever thrust a set of maracas into my hand and encouraged me to make music.
The moral of this tale is that my Little Sister and I, without any shadow of a doubt, were worthy winners of this particular award. Why, the moment it was announced, everyone laughed
and looked in our direction. There was much clapping and cheering, even before our names were called. We were either totally brilliant or had been making complete and utter prats of ourselves all evening. James is, by his teacher’s own admission,
at least equally worthy of taking home the Class Cup.
Here is my message to his teacher: the Easter Holidays are coming up – why not let James bear the Class
Cup home in triumph at the end of term and keep it, shiny bright, on his bedroom windowsill for the duration of the holiday?
It’s either that or a hamster...