Just played in my first orchestral concert for years! I was so excited about the children coming to watch! I was playing the viola - how better to inspire them to practice diligently and perhaps trigger a life-time's enjoyment of classical music? But as the day grew near, two dropped out because something better cropped up - parties, sleepovers - so in the end it was just Bonnie and good old Maddy. ‘Bonnie,' I whooped, 'you can sit right in front of the violins and watch them at close range!!’ ‘I don’t want to listen to a few STUPID violins. I want to go to the Steam Fair and GO ON THE OCTUPUS!’ she bawled.
I strapped her into the car nonetheless (‘most children would think themselves lucky...!’) and brushed off the shoe-prints she’d stamped on my concert dress. It was unfortunate that the Steam Fair coincided with my concert, but I was confident that culture would win over candyfloss. In the meantime, I struck a deal that she would watch half the concert, get an edible treat on the way home, and I would take her on the Octopus at twelve noon the next day. The words 'spoilt brat' never crossed my lips, I swear.
Once seated in the concert hall, my family group were transported by the glorious Grieg Piano Concerto. Glancing over from the second desk of the violas I spied them concentrating on the music with eyes shut and mouths open, excluding Bonnie who was transfixed by the pianist’s peach gown; the combination of balmy evening and vigorous tinkling were turning it dark orange around the bosom area as she became drenched in sweat, a social faux pas of the gravest order by the look on Bonnie’s face and her pointing at the offending armpits. Alan whispered something in her ear – at a guess concerning the edible treat – and she then sat quietly, staring into the middle distance, no doubt soaking up the heart stopping beauty of the final movement. The audience rose for a standing ovation as the magnificent performance ended, and I rushed over to receive Bonnie’s congratulations and witness her awe-struck reaction to the music first hand.
‘That was the most BORING thing I have EVER heard’ she said, ‘Let’s go Daddy – I want my treat’.
The next morning I knew I had to get out of the Octopus ride, for I would be sick; the obvious solution was to allow Alan to do it after he’d returned from remedying his golf swing; but when I explained my idea to him, he said he might not be able to get back by noon, but he’d try, so I knew the score. With mounting unease, I tried entertaining the children with good old-fashioned family fun so that they’d forget all about the boring old steam fair, but Bonnie positioned herself on the garden gate straight after breakfast and was shouting ‘Let’s Go! Let’s Go!’ I even got out all Alfie's model-making sets that birthday guests mistakenly thought he had the fine motor skills and enthusiasn to conquer, and squinted at the teeny weeny B52 bits, but he preferred turning the telly on and off by banging his head on the TV table, a trick which relies on excitingly unpredictable circuitry, a wobbly house, and a seriously bored child. No, it wasn't working, so I grimly accepted defeat, rang my Dad to say I’d always loved him, and walked to the Octopus, there to have my stomach pulled out of my mouth and shoved back in a thousand times before being deposited back on firm ground whence I fell over, and was led home by the hand and put to bed by Alfie and Bonnie. I am hoping to recover by the next orchestra rehearsal.