Belfast Telegraph

How 100 happy children banished my fears about prom night

By Jane Graham

Another week, another colossal landmark in my child's up-up-and-away trajectory. Yes, this was the week my baby daughter, who used to enjoy nothing more than crawling into my cupboard and putting all my shoes on her head, left primary school. And she did it in a halterneck gown, summer sandals and petal-hued lip balm. Oh, Mother Time, you are a bitch.

I insisted we keep it classy for her end-of-school prom. There was to be no fake tan. Ears would remain resolutely unpierced. There would no hint of a high heel.

She was so excited by the prospect of a formal dressing-up dance - for which, horror, she already had a "date" - she agreed to all of my terms.

On the drive to the party, I bit my tongue and refrained from asking her to keep a list of the DJ's choices, so I could scan it for damaging content later (my concern dates back to a previous Christmas disco when I went to pick her up and found half the class amateurishly twerking to the strains of Robin Thicke's misogynists' anthem Blurred Lines - it seemed her teacher had never listened to the words).

I dropped her off in the playground as the sun was going down. She skipped off ahead and was quickly swallowed up by a babbling gang of glamorous 12-year-olds, most of them taller than me. I waved and shouted "Have fun!", but I knew she hadn't heard me. She was already half-way inside, gossiping and giggling.

Fretting at home, I could feel her leaving me further and further behind with every increasingly dizzying, senses-assaulting, Dionysian minute.

Which mop-topped demon would smuggle in the alcopops, who was sexting behind the bike sheds, which little floozy was passing round the blood-red lipstick?

I wanted her to enjoy herself (sort of), but if she was glowing, it might be down to the flirting of some porn-addicted pubescent predator.

How did I feel about that? It felt only a couple of years since I took that photo of her sitting at her first school desk, looking up proudly from a drawing of a fat-bellied stick man with an enormous smile.

When the time came to pick her up, my heart was beating like a starling caught in a rat trap. I arrived at the school, followed the escaping bass of the music and walked into the darkened atrium where the savages were squealing.

There they all were, 100 rosy-cheeked, shiny-faced kids throwing each other - and their teachers - around in circles to the hearty strains of the Dashing White Sergeant.

It wasn't anything like a Rihanna video. It was more like Riverdance, with shorter legs.

There was the odd blush when a boy who kinda liked a girl got to link arms with her for a few seconds.

There were exchanged grins between friends who caught each other's eyes across the whirlwind.

The dancers weren't sneaking off for a crafty snog, they were cheering on the jolly, beardy maths teacher in the kilt.

They weren't freestyle postulating like mini Jaggers and Mileys, they were clapping in time to decades-old ceilidh tunes.

The scene hit me so hard I almost burst into tears.

It wasn't just that it was all so innocent - it was that none of the kids were old or cynical enough to see the innocence in it. No one was rolling their eyes, or dragging their feet. They were happy.

This was all it took for them to feel free.

Big school is calling, but 12 isn't 18 after all. Even if it looks it.

Kanye hits all right notes at Glasto ...

I am an avid Twitter user. The drivel is easily avoided and the funny, informative and edifying stuff more than makes up for it.

It's also a fantastic gauge for what makes something a "talker", and there's no question what the talker was at Glastonbury; on Saturday night Twitter lit up the moment Kanye West's silhouette appeared.

Just one man swaggering about a stage, hectoring the crowd.

No singing. No band. No guitars. What an ego! What a genius!

For me, it was all rather wonderful. Music is exactly where we want monomaniacal control freaks.

Let the nice sensible chaps work in accountancy firms.

By George, it's the unkindest of cuts

The pro-austerity Government are so committed to their aggressive cuts, I sometimes, in my dreamy, leisurely moments, wonder if there is anything which would persuade them to slow their campaign down.

Rows of body-bags lined up outside food banks? All four UK children's commissioners saying £12bn of cuts to the welfare budget will lead to a huge leap in child poverty? Oops - that's already happened, and it seems not. As long as George Osborne and David Cameron can keep heralding acceptable stats regarding "relative" poverty - as opposed to that pesky alternative "actual" poverty - it appears they can live happily alongside the starving Britain outside their field of vision.

Belfast Telegraph

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