Sunday, 6 July 2014

Tombola - Kentish Town .

On a drizzly London Saturday my sister-in-law woke with some dread. It was my nephew's school's Summer Festival. We'd call it the school fete but this is an aspirational primary school in the still largely working class area of Kentish Town so its a festival.. The change in status of the area is marked by the influx of nannies to service the young monied families buying up the real estate. They can be seen swarming in large numbers at the Hampstead Heath kids pool in summer, prams parked six deep on the hill while their charges maraud across the shallows. The accents of the kids and the genuine mothers is in stark contrast to the broad accents of the nannies. These are kids of young professionals being cared for by the South London and Irish working girls and by recently arrived Eastern Europeans. I am told there is a spot where they gather to gossip known as the 1 o'clock club.

Jo is looking after the tombola stall. Our friend Gerry used to run the St Ita's fete version in Brisbane with great gusto and good humour. She insisted in clearing the shelves of prizes by the end of the day as she didn't see any value in storing them for next year. Most of it was just stuff anyway. Gerry would spend the year saving up jars for the event and wold then have a hundred of them stuffed with lollies or soft toys and trinkets, all very colourful and attractive to young eyes. At the beginning of the day one in five tickets won a prize, in the last half hour one in two and eventually she was giving stuff away with every ticket. She made a killing each year. 

The Kentish Town Tombola is a little more upmarket and not half as much fun. None of which is Jo's responsibility. She was just a volunteer helping run someone else's Tombola for three hours. Most of the prizes were wine and jams (bought, not home made) and barely half were suitable for children. There was too little madness and too much money and the shelves were still two thirds full of prizes with an hour to go. I wouldn't want to be too judgmental about the 'Fete". It was charming, with lots of activities and the kids were totally engaged in painting and making and throwing and bouncing and eating and eating and eating. In addition there was good food for the adults, a bar and plenty of junk, always the best part of a fete. The day befiore I had bought a copy of Treasure Island full price to read to Harry when we're all in Malta and paid 7 pounds for it. Today I picked up 5 books for 2 pounds. I was dreading the possibility of spotting the R L Stevenson classic amongst the pile of books for 50p.

Young  'A', the ten year old electronic genius friend of Harry's, has invented his own game which people paid to play. Called "Beat the Fish" it's the one where your steady hand has to navigate a ring around a wire path without touching the wire - BEEP and you're out, succeed and the prize is a lolly of quality Harry tells me. A "Celebration". 'A' brings it to the fete every year and he's in charge, sitting there for the whole three hours making sure no one cheats.

Jo came home exhausted and went to bed. Even I lay down for an hour to recover. Nothing nicer than an afternoon nap under a doona on a cloudy, sometime rainy, London day.


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