The Angry Adjudicator

We arrived an hour and a half before our section was to begin. Where were we? We were at an eisteddfod in the St. George area of Sydney, an area that we were soon to discover, took eisteddfods extremely seriously. As us Mums stood around like shags on a rock, someone said that they only accepted cash for the entry wristbands.

Now, I never have cash on me because the rest of my family treat my handbag like their own personal ATM machine, so with time on my side and a new suburb to discover, I grabbed one of the mums who I had only just met, and we walked down the street in search of a bank.

We got to the corner and couldn’t see a bank on the main street. Plenty of noodle and dumpling places, but no banks. I saw the pub and knew that they would have an ATM there for the pokie players.

Because my new friend was a new friend, I was not going to suggest that we have a cheeky drink, but when she suggested that we had a cheeky drink, I feigned being very surprised at the suggestion, but sure. Why not. It was after all a Sunday and I also had the paper in my handbag, and still, time was on our side.

We opened the door.

“So this is where all the dance mums are hanging out!” I thought to myself as I ordered two gin and tonics. The cocktails assisted with my and my new friend sliding into deep and meaningful conversations, mainly that her husband had recently retired and she really was not coping with him being at home all the time.

We decided we had time to have one more drink. Now, the problem I have with drinking when the sun is shining is that it kind of speeds up the process. The table next to us, well those mums where throwing back carafes of chardonnay like it was their last supper. They looked like stalwarts of the competitive dance parenting industry.

The clock was nearing the time of dance-off so we made our way back to the hall. Eistedfodd Halls are not at all plush. They are large, dark, echoey, dusty atriums with torturous chairs.

A voice boomed out over the hall, with a brisk and “do not fuck with me” voice peppered our eardrums with at least a dozen rules that we were to abide by, or risk death.

Then the eisteddfod started. My gin buzz quickly lifted as I watched dance item after dance item, which small groups of young teenagers with surly expressions writhed around, apparently in a large amount of pain, on the floor. It was fully emo, as the contemporary sections tends to be.

“This is a bit emo, hey?” I said to my friend who had fallen asleep.

And then this gorgeous group of girls with tight, low buns morosely meandered into the centre of the stage before expressing their artistic offerings.

There was something very un-easy about their routine and then it struck me.

“Oh my god!” I whispered to new friend. “Did you watch the Handmaids Tale?” and before she could even answer, the lady sitting in front of me whipped her head around and said…

“I was just thinking that! Seriously, I was just thinking the same thing!”

Apart from 2 acts, the theme for each performance was very, very dark. In between each dance, the audience clapped enthusiastically and engaged in a little banter, during which time an in-audiable ding would have gone off which nobody had heard so again, over the PA system…

“Parents! Can I ask you to please show some respect! And also, remember that the ladies at the ticket counters are VOLUNTEERS, so please remember this. They are NOT getting paid today.”

I started doing some quick calculations in my head and thought that THAT was outrageous! Twenty bucks a ticket, there must have been hundreds in that room over many sessions over two days…. OUTRAGEOUS!

Someone was certainly making bank that day.

And then the results were announced without too much pomp and ceremony, before the doors were opened, sunshine flooded the hall and we were told that “we were to leave via the doors on the right or we shall be tasered into oblivion.”

And that, my friends, was Sunday.

Did you get up to anything fun?