DISTRIBUTING pocket money before the school fête, I issued a stern warning against the purchase of bulky junk or fluffy toys. I was completely ignored. Minutes later, one child staggered towards me with a large bag containing a fluffy pterodactyl and snow leopard, jewelled clothing, two bags of shells and a large marble block with a projecting coil of plastic. No one—including the purchaser—could suggest any plausible purpose for this last object. Nevertheless, my irritation was answered by a hurt stare and the brilliantly extemporised rebuke that it had been acquired specially for me as a present. I broke it an hour later trying to use it as a candlestick. No one will believe this was an accident.
To make amends, I threw myself into preparations for an ensuing pirate party, manufacturing two cardboard pistols, a paper wig of dishevelled hair, a tea-towel bandana and, by popular demand, a round of that famous piratical party fare, lemon drizzle cake. My wife has made the latter popular, but she’s away, so the baking fell to me. The children were characteristically encouraging. They knew my cake wouldn’t be up to standard, it was explained, but it didn’t matter because their friends had been warned already. I hope I confounded their low expectations. JG