Before summer's joys can begin we must go through the ordeal of school speech day

Cecil Parkinson droned on about good morals. About a week later, he resigned from the Cabinet

Click to follow

Summer is coming – freedom, laughter and carefree sunny days spent lounging by foreign pools while sipping mojitos and escaping reality…. But first, we must get through the ordeal of school speech day. I have never, ever enjoyed speech days. I don’t think kids enjoy speech days. In fact I’m not sure anybody enjoys speech days.

I have two vivid memories of speech days from when I was at school. The first was Cecil Parkinson coming to deliver the speech in my last year. As is the tradition, it was unutterably dull. He droned on about good morals being at the heart of a decent society.

About a week later he resigned from the Cabinet after revealing that he had fathered a child with his secretary. I remember quite admiring his chutzpah but not much else. My other memory is of introducing my father, a tricky man at the best of times, to the father of one of my friends. I did this because I knew that they had been at the school at the same time together. What I didn’t know was that my dad had been responsible for this other dad being expelled from the school. Needless to say the encounter was not entirely amicable.

Then I moved from pupil to parent. The speech days at my kids’ first school were clearly dreamed up in Guantanamo Bay. They took place in an enormous marquee that appeared to have been made of a material that acts in the same manner as a greenhouse. By the time the parents (most dressed as though attending the wedding of a tattoo artist to a stripper) took their seats, the temperature inside would have topped 40C and we would invariably have at least three faintings by the end of proceedings. The rotund and pompous headmaster would stand up and waffle on about himself for way too long before asking the chairman of the governors to give the same boring speech that he did every year.

The man looked boring, he had  spectacular comb-over hair and talked in the manner of a duller Jacob Rees-Mogg. If you were going to cast a dullard in a dull film about a Victorian school you would not look any further. Although I was forced to hear the same speech for five years I have no recall  of anything he was talking about. Actually, I lie. I do remember that he would kick off every year with a statement about how nobody wanted to hear an old duffer waffle on for ages, so he would be brief. He would then plough on until most people in the tent started having murderous thoughts.

At our kids’ new school, things are a little better. I have made friends with another father who sets up a tent, fills it with champagne and lovely food then does not move for the rest of the day. His wife is sent into the speeches with the instruction that he be summoned if any of his kids win anything. This year, I shall hover hopefully around his tent waiting to be invited in. Once inside I shall not leave until the whole bloody affair is over and we can get on with the joys of summer.

Comments