Yesterday was Our Jack’s last official day at school. To prove it he has a white shirt on which literally dozens of good luck messages have been felt-tip-penned by his friends and classmates (see pic.)
This shirt business appears to be a relatively new tradition which has usurped the humble autograph book in which I collected my friends’ names and messages when I
left school. I seem to remember we used to draw a brick wall in our autograph books and invite our classmates to sign a brick – does anybody else remember doing that? It was generally considered best to draw the brick wall in the centre pages of
your autograph book but I could never do that because, however many autograph books I owned, there taking centre stage would be my Dad’s message: “Hey diddle diddle, I’m bang in the middle!”
I am not sure how Jack can have celebrated his last day at school when he still has to go in most days to sit his exams. Once again, when I was at school we had to stay at school when our exams were over right to the
end of term. I seem to remember we were expected to use our time wisely but can’t for the life of me remember what activities, wise or other wise, I engaged in. I’m glad Our Jack is going to have time off after his exams because he has asked
if he can come to stay with us for a few days. Mr B and I are enjoying ourselves thinking up suitable activities for a sixteen year old boy. They don’t have to be particularly wise but they will need to be fun.
Jack’s Mum, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, celebrated his last day at school by posting photographs of him on Facebook – his first day at primary school, his first day at secondary school, and his very
last day. This was inevitable as the Y of the DDs always, but always, has to have a pictorial record of Family Events. She did have the grace to make mention of how tolerant her boy is of his “irritating mother who always takes photographs
to mark every occasion.” I suspect that, after sixteen years, Jack is resigned to it.
This insistence on recording every conspicuous event was never more
marked than on our Family Holiday to Disneyland, Florida a few years ago. Of all the people let loose on theme parks (where, let’s face it, hundreds of characters, from the cute to the scary, from the famous to the not-yet-known wander about more
or less announcing “Photograph! Photograph!” ) - none will have come near the Youngest of the Darling Daughters for her sheer determination to grab photographs of her twosome with every character we met. She had an instinct for spotting
them at a distance of a hundred yards and hot-footing it off to nab them, leaving the rest of us trailing after her. You know what everyone says about the size of the meals served up in America? Well, there’s no way I stinted on my food (I am, as you
know, Always Thinking About My Stomach) but I came home from that particular holiday a good two pounds lighter. I am pretty sure I lost every single ounce chasing after Mickey, Goofy or some furry creature with a winsome face and a fluffy tail.
Before the rest of us could plan a mutiny, the Photographer Extraordinaire noticed that, for one day only, we were being offered Five for One. As in, if we queued for hours,
we would be able to have our photos taken with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto in turn. We were persuaded (she can be amazingly persuasive, the Y of the DDs) that if we took advantage of this splendid offer, she would promise not to chase after
another character with her ever-ready camera for the rest of the holiday (I think there was only one day left, but it's the thought that counts.) So we queued and queued for what seemed like eternity but eventually we reached the front of the queue.
For those of us who were still awake, excitement knew no bounds.
At this precise moment, Disney staff called a halt to our progress; a family consisting of grandparents
(one in a wheelchair), parents and children was ushered centre stage. All the characters left their stations and grouped around them while photographs were taken. The Y of the DDs had the light of zeal in her eyes. There was every chance, she suggested,
that as all the characters were in place, we – as the next family in line – could step forward and be snapped with them. It would be, she enthused, a photograph of a lifetime. Except that the Disney staff were having none of it. Why not?
Mrs Snap Happy demanded. After all we had just watched the other family surrounded by The Mouse, The Duck, The Dogs. At which point, one of the Disney folk made a fatal error: “But they are a special family,” she explained. We knew
what she meant but it was, perhaps, not the most sensitive way of explaining it.
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters was incandescent with rage. “So are we!” she protested, “We’re
a special family!” It made not one iota of difference.
Perhaps Our Jack remembers the incident. Maybe that’s why he submits with such good grace
when his mother chases after him with her camera and insists on yet another photo to add to the sixteen and a bit years worth she has already accumulated.
it’s because they are both – mother and son - indisputably special.