Friday, 28 May 2010

Tzniusfest - sponsored by HM Government

Little is known of the benevolence of Her Majesty's Government in our circles once Housing Benefit is taken out of the equation. Malchus shel chesed is a nice catchword for those who want us to repose our trust in them as the sole channel to the authorities who must be kept on side lest they herd us all on cattle wagons for transportation to the other side of the river lea. But in our day to day lives any beneficence of the authorities is wiped out by parking tickets, bailiffs and the nazis in the planning department. You could perhaps include the NHS though one could argue how benevolent it is to have to wait in a queue in the early morning cold to get an appointment with a doctor everyone knows to be a shlimazel. As to free education, as far as most Stamford Hillers are concerned it's like western civilisation to Ghandi: not a bad idea.

But Yesodey HaTorah was supposed to change all of that. Parents who've been dodging the school-fees collector all their child-rearing lives, and that lasts rather long round here, have woken up to spare funds in their pockets thanks to the free school in their midst. And whilst our North West cousins must pay for the Hebrew lessons, in our neck of the woods those too come for free. Mind you they're taxed when using the school wedding hall for those same children's betrothal party but for the moment the little ones are still at school and the shadchen has yet to call. Free schooling works best to put elbows on desks, especially when the more holier elements have tarnished the school for its national curriculum obligations, Heaven forfend. And though our dear kinderlech are the apple of our eyes even that can't beat a free lunch.

I digress for I have come to discuss the benevolence of HM Government and since hakoras hatov, gratitude to you and me (put it in Hebrew and it feels as if not only did we discover it but we remain its sole curators), is something that is drilled into us from the moment we know and appreciate the true meaning if not the value of an asken we should know of this particular act of governmental beneficence. It has not only saved us the price of an entry ticket or a donation to the latest Decree of the gedolei yisroel but according to the speakers at this great event we were bringing our redemption closer and all thanks to Alastair Darling for whom we didn't even vote. But that too is another matter.

So to the Tzniusfest. For the past few weeks parents privileged to have their children admitted to the YHS schools have been bombarded with invitations, flyers, phone calls, letter and not to mention pressure from the kids to attend an event that took place on the first Monday of May 2010. Bank Holiday to many people but as the late Rabbi Dunner would say in his characteristic non-existent yekishe humour, we're not banks so what's it got to do with us?

"An evening that you don't want to miss!' we were promised, or rather 'ALL YHS MOTHERS' were promised. And since you were made to sign in upon arrival you indeed wouldn't want to miss it because having succeeded in getting your kids in to the school you wouldn't want to risk it all by defying a summons of this nature. 'Links in our Legacy' was its original name which mutated (the kosher variety) to 'Golden Links' described as 'an opportunity to link with the school and to show your child you care'. A line up of a 'renowned' lecturer no one's heard of and a 'thought provoking' speaker from Lakewood, where thinking is famed for provoking the ire of its inhabitants, ignited intellectual curiosity, an elegant buffet whetted the appetite and audio visual and musical presentation broke down all resistance.

Besides, the Hill was agog with rumour. After the latest baby/shidduch/cheesecake recipe this was truly the number 1 preoccupation of the female denizens of the Hill (the male variety not requiring Golden Links or being unwilling to sign a register upon entry). Surely if we're talking of linking with the school and caring for our child it could only be the launch of a PTA with a question and answer session where questions haven't been pre-vetted. (In true Hill tradition and YHS sensibility questions could be submitted anonymously in advance.) Or perhaps, and here I'm really running away with myself, elections for a parent governor. Ultimately we knew this had to be a transmogrifying event in the annals of the Hill and the history of the school and as always trusted YHS not to let us down.

So turn up we did and why not for a ticketless entry. Since there was no sponsor, not even of the space filling 'anonymous' variety we can only but assume that it was Her Majesty and her loyal government to whom we were required to our sheitels to and doff our sheitels we did by the time they let us out. But for that I'm afraid I must leave you in suspense for the sequel.

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