That first day of school photo: tyrannical, stressful and emotional | Peter Bradshaw


Here’s something else they don’t teach you in parenting school: the overwhelming importance of the Facebook First Day at School Uniform Photograph. When I first went to secondary school, my mum and dad took an excruciating picture of me out in the back garden wearing the outfit a week or so in advance. Then they framed it and stuck it on a shelf.

Now of course your child’s first day of school has to be preceded by a fantastically stressful last-minute photo-op out on the pavement, to be later uploaded on social media and accompanied by the compulsory ironic-yet-proud description of how you feel about it all – for all the world as if this photograph had been snapped as a tiny afterthought, rather than something created with a level of planning and importance that makes a Vanity Fair cover shoot look casual. I chivvied my son into standing up straight and smart outside the house, clicking away with my smartphone, frowning earnestly.

Then all his mates turned up to collect him, and we insisted on shuffling them together for a group shot, our eyes swimming and lower lips trembling. They were in dire danger of being late. The scene was replicated up and down the street. I was starting to resemble a cross between Mario Testino and a slightly more benign version of Geraldine McEwan’s mother in the TV adaption of Jeanette Winterson’s novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Are we going to have to do this at the beginning of every term?

The London club Fabric is closing and now the way is open for dozens of elegiac memories from people ruefully recalling their Dionysiac club adventures in that most Dionysiac of decades, the 1990s (Fabric opened in 1999). I never got the hang of clubbing: my friend Charlotte Raven once took me to Fatboy Slim’s place in Brighton and I remember daringly staying out with her there until two in the morning; like Mrs Merton, I wanted to ask the famous DJ: Gosh, all these people with bottles of water dancing all night for 12 hours! Where do they find the energy?

Perhaps the most up close and personal I ever got with a club was Ministry of Sound in south London – which I visited, in the middle of a boring working day, because it was screening Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn. Like the manufacture of sausages, an empty daytime club should never be witnessed. With its blank, silent spaces, grimly tactless lighting and signs up everywhere saying Danger: loud noise, there was something chilling about it – like a crime scene. But that’s part of the price you pay for enjoying yourself. Clubbing and I were never destined to get on.

Having to backpedal on an insult is never easy, and the Philippines’ president Rodrigo Duterte has not entirely mastered the art. I have already discussed this bizarre figure’s nickname, Duterte Harry. After the US criticised extra-judicial killings in the Philippines drug war, Duterte called President Obama son of a whore. (His full remark was, Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum – referring to their scheduled meeting at a regional summit in Laos, which Obama has now icily cancelled.)

Now Duterte has expressed regret that it came across as a personal attack on the US president. It’s so awful when the harmless diplomatic phrase son of a whore is misinterpreted in this way. Yet Mr Duterte needs to learn a bit more of our vocabulary of impenitence. What he should have said was: With respect, Mr President, you need to lighten up, yeah?

News Source TheGuardianNews

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