Sometimes the quotidian round gets you down.
‘How are you?’
‘Looking forward to the hols?’
‘Oh yes, can’t wait!’
‘Isn’t the last week of term fun?’
‘Absolutely! So many super school events requiring my presence!’
At such times, it’s refreshing to have an encounter with Lewes’s own superhero, Honesty Girl. She doesn’t wear a cape or mask - at least, not in public - but she does fearlessly hunt down chirpy small-talk and bring it to its knees.
‘How goes it, Honesty Girl?’
‘How was sports day?’
‘Appalling. In the mummy’s race I Zola Budd-ed some woman to save face. Then I puked at the finish line.’
At the end of term, when one stares horrified into the six-weeks abyss, Honesty Girl’s bracing pessimism can be just what one needs. However bad you have it, she has it worse.
‘Got plans for the holidays, Honesty Girl?’
‘Hell yeah. Case of Smirnoff for me and wall-to-wall CBeebies for the kids. Sorted.’
Occasionally, though, one wishes to be surrounded by what Hoxton Mum calls ‘positive energy.’ At the school fair last weekend, Thing One was riding a horse – a new innovation, both for her and the school – and her cries of terror gave way to cautious smiles. Incidentally, have you noticed the one-upmanship of school fair attractions? We had quadrupeds, another school had a homemade bread stall. What’ll it be next summer, helicopter rides and Sumo displays? Anyway, Thing Two was also happy, researching how many chocolate crispie cakes you can cram in at once (answer: five). I was wafting round in a broad-brimmed hat and suddenly felt quite Stepford-Wives-ish. In a good way. You know, like everything was perfect and organised and clean. Well, not Thing Two’s chin, but everything else. Trying to savour this unfamiliar feeling, I chatted to Hoxton Mum, who’s always channelling Nanette Newman, and we were throwing back our heads and laughing, when Hoxie hissed, ‘Look out! Job’s Comforter approaching, three o’clock.’
We dived behind the white elephant stall, which will doubtless feature real elephants next year, but too late: Honesty Girl stomped towards us, dust cloud above her head.
‘Isn’t this a nightmare?’ she said. Our smiles faltered, but we attempted to keep aloft the illusion of marvellousness.
‘It’s simply lovely’, I cried.
Honesty Girl stared. ‘I need some of whatever you’re on’, she said. ‘I’ve had sponges chucked at me because the headteacher’s refused to go in the stocks. My brats have taken my last twenty quid to buy sackloads more plastic tat. I’ve eaten a fairy cake with icing so virulent it’s taken out my filling. And I just stepped in some manure.’
There was a wail from the playground, and with a sense of inevitability I watched Thing One fall off the horse with a thud. My hat blew away in the wind, and Thing Two wiped gooey rice crispies into my hair.
‘It IS ghastly, isn’t it?’ I said, and Honesty Girl nodded happily.
Beth Miller, 21st July 2010. Published in VivaLewes.com