Middle Class Problems: It is important that I exemplify the Corinthian spirit at school sports days


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The Independent Online

I hadn't expected the dads' race at my daughter's school sports day to be a rite of passage. But it was. Which is probably why it's taken a couple of weeks to sink in. Let me explain.

I arrive at the sports day to find my six-year-old weeping. The Year One obstacle race, in its Darwinian savagery, its unbridled competitiveness, has sent her into meltdown. It is upsetting.

To show her that we are all here to have togethery, fluffy fun, and merely to try our best, I line up for the dads' dash, trying to look as carefree as I can. For my daughter, you understand.

Away we go, and in I trundle, nicely tucked in behind the main bunch. I ignore the inkling that I have "underperformed". I turn to my daughter, big goofy grin in place. "You came second last! Mwwaaaaah!" But, I mildly insist, I had "fun" with all the other dads. In fact, as it turns out, that's not quite true. The race winner, we learn, is the "big brother" of a child at the school. He looks 17. I applaud, I smile, I give a quizzical look at the victor bounding off with his medal.

No matter. It is important that I exemplify the Corinthian spirit for Daughter No1. Cut to the next morning. Walking the children to school, I fall in step with the mum of my daughter's best friend. "Hey," she says, "it was great to see a proper old dad having a go at the dads' race!"

"Oh yes," say I – you know where this is going – "who was that, then?"

"You, Mike! You! Brilliant."

I'm taking this on the chin. I'm laughing it off. I'm going to return next year and win, or die trying.