Every year The Hull Creative Play Network holds an event for Play Day in Queens Gardens in the city centre. Play Day is a national event celebrating children's right to play and it takes place the first Wednesday of August every year. And I mean proper imaginative, creative play that makes a mess and doesn't involve a games console or "interactive" element that actually means the toy does all the work and the child does next to nothing.
Yesterday, despite the rain, was a massive success. The theme this year was Pirates, including nautical, wet and water fun- and yes it was a little ironic given the rain. Lots of community groups were there providing workshops so the children could make music, or make a pirate hat, or a cutlass, or a raft. There were bouncy castles and some fairground rides and a sandy beach. Everything was free as the summer holidays are an expensive time. Included in the free good stuff was a piece of fruit and a bottle of water for any child that wanted it. And who was that rather attractive pirate giving out the fruit? Why me, of course!
I briefly considered wearing a frilly blouse and my corset in true Grace O'Malley style (see above in a picture byNathan McDicken) but there was no-one at home to help me with the laces so I contented myself with a stripy top, skull and crossbones bandanna and gold hoop earrings.
Over my years of being the fruit lady (Nell Gwynne's got nothing on me) I have noticed an interesting phenomenom, the word free makes people go a bit crazy. I'm guilty of it myself- yesterday I acquired a stress-relieving ball in the shape of a monkey - but some of the behaviour I've seen over the years is amazing. The simple rule is one bottle of water and one piece of fruit per child if they want it. That doesn't mean fruit and water for the many, many children you claim you have at home; that doesn't mean water for your dog; or bottles "for later"; that doesn't mean slipping enough in your bag to fill the fruit bowl for a week; it doesn't mean coming back five times and hoping I won't notice; it doesn't mean sending your cutest child to ask for some fruit for Mum, Dad, Grandad, Granny, Cousin It and The Bobbsey Twins. If it's getting late and you're hungry I'll be glad to let you and your kids have some extra bananas or a bottle or two of water but don't take the piss; it's there for everyone and just because it's free does not indicate a free-for-all.
OH, and... a please and a thank you will get you a long way in life. It's shocking how many of the adults don't bother.