The Way We Were...

Horseshoes are lucky for some, not me...

"I thought, for you, the horse shoe pitching," pronounces the secretary of the PTA, consulting the list in his hand with a worried frown which suggests that the task of organising our school's annual fete is proving an arduous one.

 

"Horse shoe pitching?" I query, eyeing his face suspiciously - what is it about me, I wonder, that makes horse shoe pitching strike him as so very appropriate? The Hon Sec misinterprets my expression: "It's really a very easy side-show to handle," he says, reassuringly, "We had two youngsters running it last year." I am still more offended; what particular properties of wit or wisdom are required, I ask myself, to manage the Coconut Shy or the Crazy Kitchen, that I can only be trusted with horse shoes?  

 

"We have to do our bit for the kids, don't we?" he says, heartily, resorting to heavy emotional blackmail as he detects a certain lack of enthusiasm on my part. I am not convinced that my manning a stall at the school fete will do anything to assist my children's future, but still..."Horse shoes," I agree, weakly.

 

My daughters are entranced. "Oh, Mummy, how marvellous, are you really? I'll get everyone in my class," Hilary promises, "to come and throw horse shoes at you."

 

"Charming!"

 

"Oh, you know what I MEAN!"

 

"Where are you going to get all the horse shoes from?" asks Anne, the practical one. I dismiss the problem, airily. "They'll be provided, of course. At least..." sudden doubt assails me - "Well, they will, won't they?" I appeal to my daughters who shrug silent shoulders at me. The Hon Sec, when consulted, is greatly amused: "Of course we provide the horse shoes. Unless you particularly want to bring your own, ha, ha, ha!"

 

"Ha, ha, ha," I echo grimly. "Still I'm glad you called," he continues, "because I've got lots of raffle tickets that I want sold..."

 

"Horse shoes!" I mutter, crossly, returning to my daughters with 10 books of raffle tickets tucked in my handbag. "Won't it be fun?" they say happily.

 

Their father, still unaware of our plans, predicts a nice, quiet weekend ahead: "Read the papers, potter in the garden..."

 

"Pitch horse shoes," I supplement, artlessly.

 

"Won't it be funny, Daddy?" our daughters enthuse, "Won't it be exciting? Won't you have a lovely time?" "At least," I comfort him, as we take up our position at 2 p.m. sharp, "it should be a very inexpensive way of spending the afternoon. We've even got free tea tickets," I point out, waving them under his doubt-wrinkled nose.

 

I could not be more wrong, as it happens. Despite the invaluable aid of a small boy who attaches himself to my side and scampers around collecting the horse shoes for me, all our time and attention is fully taken up raking in the 3p a time and keeping a tally of the highest score of the day. In the meantime, our girls return every few minutes for fresh funds to provide yet another ride on the model railway or a bounce on the Space Hoppers.

 

"Where is it all going?" I ask, aghast, after the fourth appeal in 20 minutes. "We've got lots of prizes," they assure me, "We've found a lovely game where we keep on winning." They display a motley assortment of hair-slides, colouring books and crayons to my view. "It's called Lucky Dip," says Anne contentedly. "It's a good fete, isn't it, Mummy?" Hilary asks and, without waiting for my reply, "We knew you would enjoy yourself."

 

The fete raised £270, of which the Horse-Shoe Pitching provided a hard-earned £4.50. Today I received a type-written invitation requesting "the pleasure" of my company at a "stall-holders' reception." Nothing so ordinary as a meeting or a get-together, I notice - it's a "reception" no less.

 

For me it conjures up a rather grand vision of a be-wigged and powdered flunkey, announcing each arrival in stentorian tones.

 

"Mrs Ball - Horse-shoes!" he will bellow - as I canter into the Junior School Dining Hall.

 

Kent Messenger - 1974

 

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Latest comments

26.10 | 14:21

Mmm, was it because there were '24 men kicking a ball' that it didn't end entirely satisfactorily???

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15.10 | 11:13

I don't remember seeing this first time round.... but thank you for sharing with me. You write beautifully, and brought a tear to my eyes. Lots of love xx

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10.10 | 21:37

Jaqui I think your grandchildren are very lucky. You have spurred me on to write a letter to Amelia who like Hazel is away from home for the first time. 💕

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03.07 | 22:43

Wouldn't have missed it for the world. xx

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