“And we’re going live now to the live finals of the 2015 Competitive Mum Championship, with your commentators Matt Baconphwoooar and NationaltreasureClareBalding…”
And you join us here for the live finals of the 2014 Competitive Mum Championships, hello, I’m NationaltreasureClareBalding. It’s been a good season for both of our finalists, who are looking sharp today, and ready for a good fight. How do you rate their chances, Matt?
“Yes, well, I think the reigning champion Sue Bibble has done well this year to keep her form going. She lost a little bit of ground around Christmas when she didn’t get the accessory pack for the new Wii console, but she knuckled down, concentrated on her technique, and now she’s looking pretty unstoppable”.
And how about her opponent, Mary Plasmascreen?
“Well, she’s come out of nowhere, hasn’t she? Remember, last year she finished 26th in the regional heats! This year she’s really worked incredibly hard and showed extraordinary determination. I think we’re in for a good one today. The crowd are definitely feeling the tension, and they’ve both got strong support. We could be in for a historic match”.
Thank you Matt. Now, you all know the rules by now, the contest ends when the winner has destroyed the opponents’ self-confidence as a parent. As you know, this is the 10-minute sprint Mum-off. The Long Distance 24-hour match ended in some controversy last week when the winner, Alison Grottle, felled her opponent, Natasha Swindon, with a low blow concerning home-schooling. As you may recall, Swindon did lose points for brooding over the argument on the way home in the car, and was still cross about it when she was kept awake at 3am the following morning replaying the argument over in her head. Grottle subsequently lost on a technicality, because the judges noticed her leaving the arena with a self-satisfied smirk on her face, and last years’ rule changes on magnanimous victories mean they’re coming down hard on gloating. The judges have been very strict on that. Isn’t that right, Matt?
“Yes, it’s been quite a change for the regulars on the professional circuit, and some of them have struggled. Grottle, particularly, hasn’t quite adapted to the change, and there’s some heated discussion on the judging forums about Swindon’s lucky victory.”
Yes, times are changing and we… yes! We can see this years’ finalists emerging from the waiting area now. The arena today is Holly’s 6th birthday party, and it’s a good pitch.
“Indeed it is, NationaltreasureClare. Not too hard, and with a good action to it. They’ve had the covers on all week, so the rain from Monday hasn’t affected the playing surface. It’s good to steady.”
The judges are just preparing the stage. Aside from the other children at the party, Sue’s children are Polly and Ollie, and Mary’s children are Milly and Billy; they will all be playing on a playmat today, the semi-finals had a Playstation of course, but the playmat offers more scope for distracting conflict and sharing issues to put the mums off. Also, Billy is only a one-year-old, and Ollie is 10 years old, so he’s far too big to be given such childish toys, and to have to mix with such young children. And girls too! There’s gonna be fireworks on the mat!
“Yeah, the dads are well positioned in the mock garden, ready to intercede and back the mums up should voices get raised. They’re looking fairly relaxed and amicable. I know Sue’s husband, Bob, can be a bit opinionated about immigrants, and he does have a tendency to come in too early if things get fractious, which would be bad for Sue. In fact I think that could be her biggest weakness.”
Indeed! The men are usually the ones to call a Mum-Off to an end, unfortunately. We’ll see if Bob’s nerve will hold today. If it doesn’t, Sue will probably give him an absolute telling-off on the way home. Mary’s partner Jon is, of course, her second husband, so he’s less confrontational if the women get a bit carried away. She has that advantage of being a single mum for a while, which is a bit of a handicap with regards to self-esteem issues, but she’s got a strong self-righteousness parry, which can be devastating.
So a quick recap of the rules: no biting, hair-pulling, no mentions of class inferiority or political allegiances to score points. The match ends on a knockout – first one to draw tears; or if the dads have to come in and calm things down, or if the kids start crying for mummy to stop arguing. If there’s a draw, we’ll have to go to extra time and the winner will be judged on the basis of the seething resentful bitching later on, and any accusations of the male partners “taking sides” in the car on the way home.
They’re entering the arena now, the kids have the toys in their hands, and the dads have lit up a cheeky cigarette and are hoping nobody notices. The referee blows the whistle and… It’s MUM-OFF ON!!
Mary: Hi! How are you?
Sue: Fine! How are you? You’re looking well.
Straight in there from Sue!
M: Yeah, been on the diet since Christmas.
S: I joined Zumba in January. Knackering! But I love it, you know. I’ve always enjoyed that sort of high-energy workout.
M: I prefer doing a long walk. I don’t bother driving anymore, I just take the bus. It’s much quicker. And then I get off and walk. It’s so nice down the City Road, with all the cafes, you can just stop off with the kids and it’s so convenient. You can’t really drive in the city, can you?
Good recovery from Mary there. Putting in the stuff about trendy cafes on City Road…
“It’s good. Makes her look sociable. Good bluff too, considering she doesn’t actually do it, but spends many hours on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle…”
S: Have you got much left on your maternity leave?
M: Two months, but I was thinking of taking a career break
[ripple of applause]
M: Yeah, well, Milly’s doing well in school, and Billy is coming up to 18 months old now, and I always think it is nicer for them for me to be around while they are very small!
S: Yeah, I suppose so.
[crowd goes “oooooh”, at the obvious miss]
Oh, that’s a poor response from Sue. She could’ve kept the rally going but she just… couldn’t…reach it!
M: How about you? Are you back full time yet?
S: No, not just yet, I’m still doing 20 hours.
M: Three days a week?
S: No, well, I thought about it, but in the end I’m working four hours a day. Gives me a chance to do the school run.
Nice recovery from Sue… she nearly lost it there
M: How is Polly doing at school? She’s, what, year 1 now?
S: Year 2!
S: She’s doing fine, you know? We’re really pleased with her reading, she’s doing it without much help from us or the teacher, and she’s really quite adventurous. We’ve got her reading The BFG at the moment.
Oh!! What a superb shot from Sue there! Got one in with a powerful blow, and you can see Mary’s feeling a bit envious because there’s all that stuff from the teacher that Milly might be dyslexic.
“Yeah, that was classic Sue there. What a performance! She’s not going to be out-manoeuvred by Mary. That’s a clear signal to her: ‘Step back: My kid can read impressively!’ “
Mary’s got to play more defensively now…
“Yes, she’s been dealt a blow with that one…”
M: Well, Milly has made superb progress. The school has been excellent with the material, because, you know, Milly has struggled a bit, particularly with reading… and Jon has done a bit of research and is finding more comics for her to read, because you know, it’s not what she’s reading that’s important, but that she’s reading in the first place!
S: Does she get frustrated at all?
M: She does, yeah, but we’ve got a deal that if she reads two of her books after school, she can have CBeebies until 6.
S: We don’t let Polly watch Cbeebies until after 5pm
M: Same with us. 5 ‘til 6 is all Milly gets most days.
Did you see that? That was a quick jab from Sue deflected well by Mary.
M: I do like Cbeebies though! That Mr. Bloom…
S: Oooh yeah! But I don’t like that Swashbuckle programme. I don’t like them glorifying pirates…
[shouts from the crowd]
Oh, that’s a foul and a miss from Sue! Yes… yes, the touchline judge has his flag up. Saying That Pirates Are NOT Awesome is a foul and Mary gets a Free Bitching!
M: I’m a size 12! I lost the baby weight just like *finger snap* that!
AND IT’S CONVERTED! Excellent strike by Mary, and Sue’s going back for the restart. She can’t be pleased at the moment.
“No, not at all. Excellent Drop-Gloat from Mary there. Sue badly let herself down by not allowing her children to have anything to do with pirates.”
Do you think she’s confused pirates with gypsies there?
“Haha! I think she has!”
S: I’m getting Polly into dance classes on Saturday now.
M: Oh good! Is she enjoying it?
S: Well, she’s a bit hot-and-cold on it. Some days she wants to do it, some days she doesn’t, but we’ve paid for the term now…
M: Yeah, we’ve got Milly doing swimming lessons. She’s actually doing well.
S: She’s more physical than academic, isn’t she?
Good patronising from Sue…
M: Yeah, but she does well at sports and games. And she’s not very girly with it, you know, she plays football and she gets on well with the boys in her class.
[crowd goes “oooooh!”]
S: Yeah, Polly’s quite sociable which is good. Some of the boys pick on her, because she’s quite small for her age…
M: …but she’s quite a character isn’t she?
S: Yeah, she’s my daughter! She’s imaginative, and she’s always singing and talking nine to the dozen. She’s quite selective about who she plays with, and we think that’s good. I mean some of the kids are a bit rough, and she needs to sort out for herself how to deal with certain people. Of course, she gets teased for having those thick lenses in her glasses. And some of the kids are from the estate. I just won’t let her play with Cameron in her class…
That’s a strong KatieHopkins right there, let’s see if it works…
M: Ah, we let Milly play with whoever she likes. It’s her choice, ultimately.
S: Did you invite the whole class to her birthday?
M: No, we had just a small thing in the local softplay
S: Oh, we hired that large place. You know? PlayReich?
M: Is that the one with the laserballs and the excellent cappacinos?
S: Yes, that’s the one!
M: It’s always really full when I go there, and it’s really expensive…
S: Oh, we just hired it for the afternoon, we had it all to ourselves
YEEEESSSS! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL GOAL THERE!
“Absolutely Clare! The crowd are going wild”
That was a clever interception by Sue. Mary was being liberal and inclusive with her parenting and encouraging socialisation, and Sue could’ve fumbled that badly with her risky KatieHopkins, but she brought buying power and aspiration into it, and Mary just couldn’t compete!
“Well, that’s a veteran performance from Sue. It just shows that age and experience… oh, hang on!”
Child crying! Somebody won’t share!
“Yes, one of the children from the party has barged in and messed up things on the playmat. Yes, it’s Sam the ADHD kid in Milly’s class. Mary’s gonna have to step in and block Sue’s bonus here…”
It’s gonna be tight…!
M: Milly! Milly love, you’re just going to have to share it. Yes, I know he snatched. Use your words!
Milly: “Please give it back Sam. I was playing with it. Wait your turn!”
M: Good girl! Now, play nicely. Say thank you to Sam. That’s good.
Nice handling there. Sue gets the points, but Mary gets the XP ranking, especially for calmly resolving an issue with someone else’s kid, that’s always a very tricky situation.
“It’s a deserved score for Sue, though.”
S: Shall I get you some more tea?
M: No thanks
S: I do find myself getting through several cups a day…
Aaaaaand we’re into half time there. How do you think it’s going, Matt?
“I think it’s going well for Mary, considering. Sue is strong though, and experienced.”
She’s certainly on peak form at the moment.
“Yes, although remember she had to miss out on the championship two years ago due to injury, when she and Bob had a slightly less consistent sex life”
I remember that! She pulled her self-confidence and she needed time off to recover…
“That’s right. And her own feeling of attractiveness and self-worth took a knock, and that sort of thing could end the career of a less outgoing Mum…”
She’s a fighter though.
“Definitely, definitely. Mary’s looking tough despite her age though.”
Well, she’s in her late 20s, whereas Sue is 37 now.
“Things are definitely firmer for Mary!”
Body condition does play its part of course
Yes, this’ll be a difficult second half. Mary needs to be less passive-aggressive and more openly hostile. Sue needs to show a bit more discipline. There they are, coming out now to rapturous applause!
“I must say, the atmosphere is ELECTRIC!”
This is what Mum-Off is all about! Here we go for the kick off…
M: Do you have a Playstation at home?
S: We have one of those Wii things. I use it for the Wii-fit, obviously, but Bob likes to play the kids at table tennis.
M: Jon bought an Xbox, which Milly doesn’t get much time on, and Billy just likes the pretty lights and colours.
S: You have three kids really, don’t you? Haha!
Aaaand the referee comes to break them apart. He’s just having a word with them about aggressive enforced jollity and insincere laughter… and… yes, he’s calling Bitch On!
S: The great thing about the Wii is that the whole family can play the games. Even Polly. It’s very intuitive…
M: Does Ollie play it much?
S: No, well, he’s much older of course. I think he finds it a bit childish, so he usually…
Yes. Gone into touch there. The ref is just reminding Mary that this is a Daughter-based Mum-Off, not a Son-orientated Mum-Off. It’ll be a throw-in for Sue…
S: We bought a new car last month
Hmmm, that’s a bold move, going into Competetive-Dad territory…
S: Yes, it’s one of those people carrier things. Not sure what make, but it carries the shopping well.
Oh, that’s a good save there.
“Yes, not knowing what make it is. Classic. And Mary concedes a penalty for not having a people-carrier, but just a little hatchback.”
S: Do you walk the kids to school?
M: Well, I walk. Milly rides on her scooter. I help her across the roads.
S: In my day, I was just left to walk to school in all sorts of weather! A mile and a half away!
Slightly bittersweet nostalgia from Sue, ruminating on the changing attitudes of modern parenting. Good, good.
“And emphasised use of the word ‘my’. Nice touch!”
M: Milly gets a treat when she gets home, if she’s been good and done her reading at school.
S: What do you give her?
M: Kinder Egg, mostly. Some days she gets fruit.
S: I don’t really allow the kids chocolate. I don’t want them to take it for granted.
Ahhh, Sue’s bringing in one of her ‘weird progressive parenting’ tricks. Could go wrong for her…
M: I think it’s nice for Milly to get variety. Chocolate, fruit…
S: POLLY’S REALLY GOOD ON THE iPAD!!!!
[The crowd gives a massive “ooooh!” as the shot hits home]
M: Milly was potty-trained by the age of… ahhh shit!
OH! Bad luck, Mary! She’s been totally outmanoeuvred there! And she’s getting a warning from the umpire about bad language in front of the kids
S: Polly could programme the Tivo by the age of two, and she knows how to use the cable remote!
M: Er… Milly can play Angry Birds on the…
S: I’m quite happy to let Polly watch a Pixar DVD all by herself!
M: I took Milly to the museum last week!
Wow, it’s really hotting up now!
“Yeah, it’s totally gone up a gear, there’s some REALLY good tackling going on from Sue!”
S: Those teachers at Polly’s school don’t know what they’re doing!
M: I encourage Milly to recycle… er…
S: I had to speak to her class teacher last week because she wasn’t giving Polly enough credit for doing extra homework!
M: Milly painted this picture of me… er… really good nose…!
S: And they never send those notes home in Polly’s bag anymore! I have to find out stuff from…
M: MILLY GOT A GOLD STAR FOR HER PICTURE!
S: …AND I TOLD THE TEACHER THAT IF POLLY DIDN’T GET TREATED FAIRLY…
M: IT GOT PUT UP ON THE CLASSROOM WALL AND EVERYTHING!!!
S: …WE WERE GOING TO HOME-SCHOOL HER!
OH! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!
“Wow! Everybody is calling for a foul there. Sue pushed it just a bit too far and made a forced error and could well be offside. Mary is claiming a free kick from the ref! The kids have stopped playing and are clearly upset by the shouting!”
Has Sue done enough, do you think?
“No… wait… the ref is calling for the video replay… YES! IT’S A FREE KICK TO MARY!”
Yes, Sue has overplayed her hand there by saying she’s interfering with the teacher.
“Mary comes to take it…”
M: I have a good relationship with my ex-husband and he sees the kids regularly. He and Jon get on fine!
Excellent shot there! And it has hit the cross bar and we’re into a corner!
“Sue must step up her defence…”
M: I made cupcakes with Milly during half term…
S: We’re going on holiday to Centre Parcs this year…
M: We go birdwatching in Framlington Woods…
S: I want Polly to have guitar lessons next year…
M: Milly played the Angel Gabriel in the Nativity…
S: We might get a puppy…
M: We joined the kids group at the city farm…
S: My people carrier is really safe for the kids. It’s a Citroen Picasso!
M: I shared this thing about wonderful parenting from UpHuffFeed on my Facebook page, did you read it? Did you??!
S: We wait until the kids have gone to bed before having sex…
M: I have weekly sex!
S: SO DO I!
M: AND MY HUSBAND STILL FINDS ME ATTRACTIVE!!
S: YOUR SECOND BLOODY HUSBAND, YOU MEAN? I’VE STILL GOT THE FIRST ONE!
IT’S A FOUL!
“REF’S PLAYING ADVANTAGE MARY!!”
M: YEAH, BUT I RAISED TWO KIDS WITHOUT ANY HELP, WITHOUT RESORTING TO BENEFITS, AND I CROCHET’D THE KIDS’ JUMPERS LAST WINTER!
S: BIG DEAL! I USE CLOTH NAPPIES!
M: I BREASTFED MY KIDS UNTIL THEY WERE OVER 18 MONTHS OLD. I WAS TOLD BY LAURA THAT YOU CHEATED AND USED FORMULA!
S: I BUY STUFF FROM GAP KIDS!
M: WE BOYCOTT NESTLE, MCDONALDS, GLAXO-SMITHKLINE…
S: POLLY SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT AND HASN’T WET THE BED IN TWO YEARS!!!
THE REF HAS CALLED THEM BACK TO THE FOUL POINT! It’s a scrum down! This is incredible!
“The crowd are on their feet!”
M: Milly can pick out a tune on the piano, but she’s never been taught! We’re thinking of getting her lessons!
S: I want Polly to have guitar lessons next… oh bugger!
M: YOU’VE ALREADY SAID THAT! MILLY AND I DANCE ROUND THE LIVING ROOM TO ABBA!
S: We play I-Spy in the car and listen to story-CDs rather than pop music… er…!
M: WE BUY ORGANIC FRUIT! PAPAYAS AND MANGOS!
S: WE DON’T LET POLLY PLAY WITH ANYTHING OTHER THAN HANDCRAFTED WOODEN TOYS!
M: WHAT ABOUT THE iPAD AND THE WII?
S: WE CAN AFFORD THAT!!
M: MILLY’S DOING REALLY WELL AT SCHOOL AND ALL THE TEACHERS LOVE HER AND SHE GETS INVITED TO ALL THE PARTIES
S: POLLY’S TEACHER IS… WELL, THEY DON’T GET ON… IT’S A CLASH OF PERSONALITIES!
M: POLLY’S GOT NO FRIENDS, SHE MESSES ABOUT IN CLASS, SHE WEARS STUPID GLASSES, AND SHE’S A WEIRD CHILD WHO TALKS TO HERSELF!!
S: MILLY CAN’T FUCKING READ, YOU FAILURE!!!
M: WE’VE GOT HER A SCHOLARSHIP TO GO TO ST.BURTHWAG’S TALENTED MUSICAL SPORT KIDS CLEVER-CLEVER ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL FOR TALENTED GIFTED KIDS LAST WEEK! DIDN’T KNOW THAT, DID YOU? YOU STUCK UP COW! YOUR HUSBAND DOESN’T SLEEP WITH YOU ANYMORE!!!
S: HOW DARE YOU, YOU HOPELESS BITCH!
AND IT’S MARY WITH A FINAL PUSH FOR THE LINE!!
M: DRINK LOADS OF TEA EVERY DAY, DO YOU? I BET YOU PISS LIKE A HORSE!
S: YOU JEGGINGS-WEARING THUNDERCUNT!!!
Bob [entering]: Oi! Calm it you two, what’s going on in here??!
IT’S ALL OVER !!! IT’S ALL OVER!!! BOB HAS COME IN TO CALM THINGS DOWN!!!
“OH I DON’T BELIEVE IT! SUE TOTALLY LOST IT AT THE LAST MOMENT! THAT WAS BRILLIANT PLAY BY MARY!!!”
Yes, Sue’s looking really upset and rattled. Bob is trying to calm them both down, whilst making excuses for Sue, and saying she’s really stressed from lack of sleep. Nonsense of course. Polly is looking like she wants to cry, Ollie has started putting his hands in his pockets and is staring at his shoes, the other kids and their parents have heard the shouting and are coming in to have a good look. It’s been a fractious party all right!
“Sue is looking defeated. Mary is looking exhausted but magnanimous. What a brilliant last-minute strike against Polly’s idiosyncracies!! Sue bore the brunt of that, but it’s Polly who will be feeling the shame for many years to come!”
It looks very much like Sue can’t… yes, YES! THE REF HAS COUNTED HER DOWN! SHE’S OUT! THE WHISTLE HAS BLOWN, SUE IS IN TEARS AND BOB IS SAYING THAT THEY SHOULD BETTER BE ON THEIR WAY!! Wow, what a match! And yes, Sue is looking furious at Bob, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a post-bitching argument where Sue accuses Bob of all sorts of things.
“Yes, I can see Sue has started jabbing her finger at Bob before they even got into the car! You have to hand it to Mary there, Sue was being properly self-righteous, but as so many mums discover, the self-righteousness can be a perilous moral high ground. Mary took great advantage of that and totally outflanked her with the scholarship news AND the digs at the sex life.”
Well, I’ve seen some spectacular bitching in my years of commentating this event but…
“I totally agree. We’ve seen a masterclass today. And… awww look at that, Milly has got up from the playmat and is applauding the crowd. That’s a lovely thing to see!”
That just sums up a good Mum-off, doesn’t it? It’s really all about the kids…
“Except we all know, it isn’t really”
Exactly! Well from us, thank you for watching. It’s been great, a real classic match that people will talk about in the pub for, well, days to come certainly. Now back to the studio for some play-by-play analysis from Fiona Bruce, Janet Ellis and Noel Gallagher.