As summer fades and a new school year is about to begin, let’s not forget the joys of sports day; the highlight of the July calendar. Picture the kids, under blue skies and a burning sun, on a route march to a parched field, faithful parents in tow. Before them lies a carousel of activities, each class reaches their designated spot, sits down in their four colour- coded teams and awaits the starting hooter. It’s all systems go.
Kids fly off in all directions, shorts pulled up under their armpits; three fall over, two bump heads and one gets stung by a bee.
Schools tend to plan sports day to coincide with torrential thunderstorms but there is no hint of that yet. A last sip of water, an explanation of the activity and the fun commences. Kids fly off in all directions, shorts pulled up under their armpits; three fall over, two bump heads and one gets stung by a bee. It is only the first event, eight to go! Battered and bruised, we all move, synchronized and clockwise, to the next activity. It is usually at this point that the grass throwing begins and teachers in hushed voices reprimand kids under the watchful gaze of parents. Two fraught hours later we arrive at the final event, doused in sweat, and that’s just the teachers! So, as a roving reporter, what are the main talking points?
A-level cheating is the order of the day. George holds the egg in the spoon with his thumb; so does everybody else.
There is no action replay available. Parents are seen shaking heads, wagging fingers.
Yellow team always win the sack race. This is because there is a hole in the bottom of the sack and feet are visible, scurrying like mice on a treadmill.
Parents are ultra-competitive even if wearing stilettos. One dad is guaranteed to crash at high speed into the prickly blackberry bush by the gates, desperate to win that sticker.
Foam javelins are highly unpredictable, some loop the loop, most go backwards and take out an unexpected team mate.
The thunderstorm will arrive. The fastest sprinting is saved for the blackened cloudburst. Two hundred kids run towards shelter as if pursued by a ghost, lion or other personal demon.
An ice pole always saves the day. Back in the classroom everyone wants a red one but those who fail in this quest grudgingly accept any alternative colour.
The head teacher says she’ll check the weather forecast next year. She won’t.
More tales from the table tops coming soon. Next time it’s all about The Voice. Kids do love to sing.
Andy Williams qualified as a teacher at Reading university in the late eighties and has been ploughing his trade in the East end of London ever since. His sideline business is writing. He had his first poem published as a youngster back in Wales and has recently completed his debut novel.