Fete accompli

Posted on November 7, 2010

Today was School Fete Day.

(Thank you for your kind wishes, I’m fine.)

Among the many notes that come home from school, cunningly disguised on different coloured pieces of paper in an effort to make them Stand Out! and Look Fun!, the one that announces the impending fete could well be the most shocking. For you know that soon there will be raffle tickets to sell, trash’n’treasure to sort, baskets to fill, hampers to contribute to, and a deluge of rainbow-coloured notes to be endured.

But it’s all over now.

Being the good P&F member that I am, I was helping to man a stall today. The book stall. My natural habitat. I was not in charge. I made sure of that. But I was there, sorting the books into $5, $2 and $1 sections. Doing the mental arithmetic (I’ve still got it!). Wondering about the kinds of books that people offload…

There was a lot of Maeve Binchy this year. Has she gone out of fashion? I love a bit of Maeve. Soft, gentle stories well told. There was what looked like someone’s entire Andy McNab collection. Surely the SAS never goes out of fashion? Jeffrey Deaver’s shiny byline was blinding in its prevalence, as was Lee Childs’s Jack Reacher novels. Someone else decided it was finally time to offload the Virginia Andrews back catalogue.

“I haven’t seen these since I was 15,” I remarked to my co-worker.

“Looks like these have been in someone’s cupboard since then,” she said, picking up the tattered copy of Flowers in the Attic, which immediately fell open to a well-worn section. We looked at each other and hurriedly returned it to the display.

I had taken the opportunity to clear out a few shelves in the Fibro. Which led to the bizarre situation where my Mum came past, picked up a book that had been on my shelf, and then had to pay $2 to buy it. I know. I can’t quite believe I charged my own mother to buy my recently-owned book either. But I felt trapped – it was on the table, it had been donated, there was an audience and, besides, it’s a fund-raiser, right?

No, I won’t be living it down in a hurry.

Of course, it was the books that didn’t make the table that were the subject of much discussion. It’s a Catholic primary school, so you’d expect the three or four copies of the New Testament, as well as the slew of school readers that mysteriously find their way back to school as ‘donations’. But a copy of 365 ways to drive a man wild in bed? It’s not so much that someone would have it – there’s many a spicy, diverse sex life happening behind closed doors. But to donate it to the school fete? What exactly are you saying with that gesture? You’ve given up? You don’t need it any more? There’s plenty more where that came from? You’re happy with just the one wild way, thanks?

All in all, the volunteer team agreed later over a beer at the pub, it was a good day. Teachers got dunked, there was the usual melee at the jumping castle, the kids all came home with other kids’ cast-off toys (Mr3 is now the proud owner of a large, plastic motorcycle of indeterminate use, bought for a bargain price), and there were enough trestle tables to go around (unheard of in the history of fetes in general). I even picked up some cool, handmade bunting for $5.

We can all breathe a sigh of relief and stop ducking the coloured notes. Til next year.


  1. Cate

    I have our school fete next fri…still making little thingys to sell at it. Am looking forward to it, but will be glad when it’s over too 🙂

  2. Deer Baby

    It could have been even worse – it could have been your Mum buying the sex book on the stall! Heavens!

    Laughed at the Flowers in the Attic bit too. I think I know which page it would have opened on. I remember reading a copy of Emmanuelle someone had lent me (yes, really) behind a school text book and getting caught by my Mum.

    Oh the shame.

  3. River

    I love school fetes and always go to the book stall first. One year I went to the cake stall first, then forgot about the cake until I found it squashed at the bottom of the books I’d bought….

  4. bigwords is...

    Wow, flowers in the attic – that was a doozy!!! Not in the realm of school fundraisers yet, but strangely looking forward to it. I am sure that will wear off though!! x

  5. MultipleMum

    I love a school fete. We had ours recently too and I had such fun!

    I want to know which books YOU bought. Standing in front of those books all day, did the sex book slide into your bag? (for a bargain price of $2?) or was it Flowers in the Attic?

  6. Bronnie and family

    I also want to know if anyone bought the sex book!
    We went to a book stall at the local Lutheran school a few months ago. Mr 9 bought a couple of horror chapter books, suitable for his age group if they’re into that sort of thing.
    He took it to school one day, and the teacher confiscated it and I got a call from the vice-principal saying it wasn’t suitable for him.
    When I told her I’d vetted it and was okay with it, and anyway, we’d bought it at the local Lutheran school, she snorted coffee all over the table! (We go to a small Catholic school).
    Tee hee.
    They gave him the book back in the end.

  7. Little Ted Canvas

    I love a school fete! The atmosphere among the teachers & parents is heaps of fun. I used to absolutely LOVE Virginia Andrews books, as much as they freaked me out, I couldn’t get enough, and sadly (??) I have every one of Maeves books, love them!

  8. Kath

    Maybe someone donated the ‘365 Ways’ book because she and the man who bought it for her had parted company, shortly after she unwrapped the book, I suspect! Brilliant just what some people will donate to charity fetes and village fairs – it’s always worth a rummage through other people’s cast-off’s for a bit of fun, and slightly less dodgy than going through their rubbish bins!

  9. vegemitevix

    Roaring with laughter! I remember the fair we had at our primary school in a well-heeled Auckland suburb. Surprisingly there were a lot of whips for sale. I didn’t think there were so many horsewomen amongst us! ;-p

  10. Maxabella

    Enough with the Maeve and VC comments! What we all really want to know is… Did you sell the Wild Ways book!?!? x

  11. Karena

    Adore Maeve Binchey and Rosamond Pilcher’s writings as well! So glad to find you!

    Come and enter my new Giveaway….I know you will love it!!

    Art by Karena

  12. Bodaciousboomer

    I’m assuming a fete is a school carnival. Am I correct? If so, every year when my young ones were young, I’d do face painting, basically all the face painting for the duration of the event. There’d usually be 4 moms there when I arrived toiling away with their little face painting kits they’d bought at the local hobby store. Then the kids would see me set up with my 20 colors and multiple glitters and that would be that. I had 1 long line. The other moms would just shut down.

  13. In Real Life

    I love Maeve too! I love browsing through book sales!

  14. Momma J

    I love my V. Andrews(reading Daughter of Darkness right now on my nook). Following you over from Sunday blog hop.

  15. Toni

    Bookstalls make me feel sad for all the poor abandoned books, but also excited that I may find a treasure if I dig long enough through the Mills & Boons and Judith Krantzes…

  16. Lori @ RRSAHM

    Ahh, Virginia Andrews. I never got into the ghost writer VC but I just can’t let the Heaven series go…

  17. Lucy

    I try to clear out our shelves and stacks – but apparently I am not allowed to – lovely husband likens the offloading of books to the drowning of kittens. Not done.

    I would never give away my Maeve collection. She makes me feel safe.

    (And I can so relate to the thankfulness of it all being over. I manned the fundraiser cake stall at sports day last year. It was worse than running a 200 cover restaurant.)

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