I arrive at the school fair. I stand by the gates and call the mum, as instructed. She appears and, rather than pay for me to get in, pleads with the woman at the gate:
“He is our nanny”.
I don’t know how this plea works, but I am in and I haven’t paid the £2 admission fee. The fair is being held in the grounds of the school, and it is heaving. The mother rushes off to tend to her stall, asking me to find the four year old as she flees. People everywhere, talking, do not notice me. It is refreshing. I am normally the subject of stares. I am a deer, passing through the aftermath of slaughter: the lions do not smell me, their noses are too deep in dead flesh. I saunter around, blissfully unnoticed. I catch tail ends and opening gambits of conversation. I try to piece these morsels together, a verbal jigsaw, to form full conversation, but nothing fits. I should be looking for the four year old, but I am distracted and enthralled. This is a world that will never truly embrace me, but I can penetrate it. Faces pass me at an alarming rate. They are pale and bald, or pale and grey. I squeeze through, I am not a parent, nor a child. This event does not cater for me. I pass stalls. Children are running them and there is no queuing system; rather, a clamour. Prizes are being given out when they shouldn’t be, and withheld wrongly. A tension exists. Good money is being turned away as the young proprietors are too flustered to find the change. Failures in this sense cheer me up – the private school is raising money to build something. Never has there been a more unworthy cause. Someone is calling me:
It is one of the four year old’s friends. She is standing by a football game. She rushes over to me, grabs my hand and leads me to it.
“This boy is so good at football. He will get loads of points”, she announces. Then, an aside to me:
“I really want the teddy bear. Will you give it to me if you win?”
A small crowd has gathered. People have heard the girl’s announcement. I do not want to do this, but I cannot pull out. A dad, thinking I am a dad, slaps my back and says:
“The pressure’s on here mate”.
I hand over 50p. This gives me 5 shots. The ball is placed right in front of the goal. I take it upon myself to move it back, to make it harder. A ripple of excitement goes through the crowd. My confidence has startled them. There are various targets to hit within the goal, with different points available for each. The friend of the four year old does not look at me as I line up my first shot – her eyes are on the teddy.
My first shot it good, but not good enough. It grazes a target. The crowd remain. My second shot goes into the goal, but not via any targets. My third shot misses the goal. Some of the crowd dissipate. The four year old’s friends narrows her eyes at me. My fourth shot hits the post and my fifth is a frustrated whack which goes over. The four year old’s friend says nothing, and marches off. The crowd do not quite boo, but they turn away: A very middle-class boo. I hang my head.
There is still no sign of the four year old. I spot a cake stand and guess she might be there. I begin walking towards it when I feel a smack on the back of my legs. I turn around. It is the four year old, arm in arm with her unhappy friend.
“Why didn’t you win the teddy for her?”, demands the four year old.
“I tried, I was just unlucky”.
“Well you promised her the teddy”.
“Well you did, and you didn’t get it. So now you must buy it”.
“I can’t buy it, it’d be unethical. It’s got to be won”.
Her friend remains silent, but is clearly still annoyed with me. I give the four year old a pound. She accepts this compensation and they both run off.
I am need a drink, but the squash is 20p a cup and I have no change. I spot a half empty cup of squash, sitting on a bench. I walk over, casually. I sit down and survey the scene. No-one is looking. Quick as lightning, I grasp the cup and throw the squash down my neck. I instantly feel better. There is a rustle in the bush behind the bench. An angry blonde boy of about 6 appears:
“Why did you just drink my squash!?”
The Male Nanny.