Jenny and Cathy have a "mufti" day at school on Friday: they don't have to wear uniform in return for making a donation to charity. Hooray. But yesterday we learned that there is a theme of "other cultures", i.e. you can't just wear your jeans and sneakers. Neither Cathy nor her form tutor are bothered by the stricture: most of the year 11s will be attending in the 16-year-old equivalent of jeans and sneakers whatever the theme and, with GCSEs looming, nobody in educational authority is going to say anything about it.
For the year 7s (a.k.a. first years), though, this is a more serious matter. They were told by their form tutor that they could not just come in wearing "their English clothes". So the exercise turns into a logistical challenge for the parents, the kind of thing I thought we'd thankfully left behind with primary school. Back to the days of the mothers who go out to work guiltily nipping out to Thursday late-night shopping and coughing up for some outrageously priced piece of tat, while the less time-poor homekeeper mums run up an elegant outfit on the sewing machine while changing the baby and feeding the toddler.
But that aspect apart, I do query the whole exercise. Quite apart from the "no English" stricture not making much sense to any Scottish, Welsh and Irish girls in Jenny's class (all countries with a decently identifiable national costume, unlike us vague English), the ethnically British are in a minority, as there are more girls of various non-UK ethnic origin in Jenny's class than not -- which seems to have passed the form tutor, or someone, by. So most of Jenny's classmates will be wandering in wearing their saris, kimonos etc in true relaxed fashion, while the domestically challenged of Petrona towers are putting up "business as usual" signs, as our in-house stock of Harry Potter cloaks, age 6-sized Sleeping Beauty/Pocahontas dresses and various Hallowe'en costumes have been firmly nixed.
I just hope that whatever charity is benefiting from all this fully appreciates it. Next time, let's bypass the costumes and siphon the extra cash straight into the recipient's bank account.