People come in, people go out. I return to my spot in the line.
'You will have to get to the back of the queue' says the lemon yellow crimplene skirt and bri-nylon top.
I turn to explain 'I've already ordered - just have to pay' I smile at the disgruntled face.
'Humph' Her face shows her disbelief at my reply.
A moment or two pass, more folk try to get in. We shuffle along, the queue is a sweaty line of bodies.
The crimplene skirt, by way of an apology begrudgingly mutters...'I get sick of queue jumpers..... Lots of them about today.'
I, as way of an acceptance agree....'Yes, there are a lot a people about today, must be the sunshine, it's brought them out'
She turns towards me, lifting a crepey wax-white arm up towards my face to wave a aluminium walking stick..'.I don't like the sun. I hate it. It's too hot.' Her lips tight and pinched on her pale face, two pink flushes on her sweat-glossy cheeks complete the picture.
'Excuse me love, your sandwich is ready, that will be £2.25'....I am grateful for the intervention by my lunch. I pay and beat a hasty retreat, out of the heat of the yellow crimplene's mood and into the heat of the day.
It is the awards evening, the hall is filling rapidly with parents and siblings. The dress code has no formality about it, T shirts and wrap-around skirts, flip-flops and sandals. People are too warm to dress smartly, they just turn up and wipe away the sweat.
Teachers, ties pinching hot necks, are being miked up.
'One two, one two, one..yes, the sound system in on.' A large excessively jovial sir exclaims, he is holding a microphone, a computer tablet and a bunch of papers as he waves at the prizewinners.
'Right, as we rehearsed, when you are called remember to come down in the order you are sitting, go round the back, come down here and receive your award, stand at the front then return to your seats'
Languid teenagers, flop their fringes, slump their shoulders and sigh at the reminder.
More staff are coming in to the auditorium, carrying tables and certificates, ties and badges. There is a lot of shuffling and sorting, rearranging and tidying.
The jovial sir keeps up a repertoire of pithy (well - he thought so) remarks. He cheerfully quipped about his new ipad, and how he needs four fingers to work it, how he'd just been given it by the PTA and how it was dangerously low on battery. His forehead shines under the spotlights.
'Use pen and paper sir' a lone voice pipes up from the back....teenagers snigger.
Ho ho good one son, he replies, I have my paper and notes with me too - just in case! He laughs at his own joke. Most of the auditorium shuffle about, not many laugh. It is too warm, he is too cheerful and the seats are too hard.
Finally, the lights dim, the shiny headed sir keeps up the banter, starts to sing, jokes about the fact that he sings at the drop of a hat, quips about and to the staff. It is relentless.
'And remember....no photos please, turn your mobiles off, it affects our sound system'. He witters on. There is a definite discontent feel in the audience as we reluctantly switch off camera phones and put down cameras.
A new voice comes over the tannoy, he is quietly spoken, to the point, welcomes sweaty family members, congratulates the award winners and starts to list out the names.........in a different order to the way the teenagers are been seated.
There is a momentary pause by the students then they make a collective decision to ignore the teacher and get up to stomp down the steps to the front and do the previously practiced drill and collect their ties/certificates/awards in the correct order.
We, the parents start to applaud.....and the proceedings are halted immediately - please, please, wait until the end, otherwise you will get clap-fatigue heh heh heh heh ' says shiny foreheaded sir.
??? clap fatigue?
So, in stoney silence, the students stand at the front of the seated parents, squirming and embarrassed and not not knowing where to look while we have to sit on our hands and not applaud and recognise our pride of our children until we are given the go ahead.....
In between each group of awards we are treated to a song or a dance routine by the drama elite. Teenagers are either passive in their indifference or exhibitionist drama students. We were inflicted by both lots. In excessive amounts......
It was a long and hot evening.
However, it was worth it in the end, to see Eldest receive recognition for his academic prowess. Photos of student and awarded tie will follow (once I have bribed/forced/cajoled or begged him to pose....)