i have become one of those parents i used to laugh at! said my cousin, going off to my old primary school to volunteer herself for "special services to the school," so that sarah can get a place there next year. holy innocents' primary (hips!) is an immensely popular school, and after siblings of current students get a place, more than half the places are taken. and then places go to children of old students and staff, and by the time it gets to that phases where you must live within a kilometre of school, which we do, it's down to a ballott. naturally sarah could get a place in my cousin's old school (one of the chijs) which isn't too far from home either, but then they have to think about getting ariel in too.

"forty service hours" a year, doesn't that sound ghastly: at an hour a week that's the entire blooming school year gone (is that right? since we're on four terms of ten weeks...) and how one would hate to be on swimming pool or recess duty, or to be painting the new extension wing and digging up the science garden, and all of this under the patent and mutual hypocrisy of knowing why you're doing it, and the school knowing it, and having no choice unless they left it up to luck, and would one? my parents had a hard enough time of it with me: having no older sibling there was no school i automatically qualified for, and being a girl i couldn't go to montfort school, where my dad taught, the balloting was against me, and it was only very late in the process that, jerking on what limited strings we had, that i got a place at hips, then a very new school, only started two years before, without the local reputation it now has, and even then it was filled and the school reluctant to take on more. it makes me wish primary school registration was more a merit-based system, like secondary school registration, but then again at that age, what do you know about anyone's learning ability or potential? why should six year olds be judged for their knowledge, since knowledge is what you're coming to school for, not with? we'll end up with a pre-primary hell of test preps and tuition, and isn't that just what is wrong with new york and its standardised testing for kindergarten entry?

at the end of the day, it's the science hod, my old form teacher, who was delighted, since my cousin is a phd in molecular biology, and with the fuss on life sciences these days the school is sorely in need of expertise in the field. i believe the cousin has been asked to conduct workshops, which i suppose is not a bad thing - i'd be fairly pleased to do something in my field, and mental not menial work? but perhaps i wouldn't really like that either - if i were a parent in her place, that is - probably i'd want a slacker job like minding the library where i can read a book in peace. but i'm out of it, thank goodness.