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Hot House

Applying in camera

Claudia Savage-Gore gives the seven-plus her best shot

So we decided to go through the whole seven-plus hell with Hector after all, and get him into a guaranteed Westminster/Eton feeder now, rather than risk common entrance when he’s a grunting 13-year-old. That was Will’s argument, anyway. But because the deadline was November, and because all #emotionallabour inevitably falls to me, I basically spent the entire month frantically recruiting tutors, auditioning interview coaches, filling out parental statements and going on a charm offensive with the relevant heads. 

We’ve also had two fairly intense photo sessions, since both our preferred schools require a family portrait on application. Will cannot get his head around this, because he grew up in Hampshire and will never understand the brutality that is St John’s Wood. Apparently it’s standard for mothers applying to Arnold House (notoriously nouveau Harrow feeder, which we’ve obviously decided against) to hire professional photographers and get all their bling on for application photos, a concept Will also can’t handle. 

Anyway, we reckoned our preferred school would be more into a family selfie on Hampstead Heath, so on Saturday we got our Canada Goose on and gave it our best shot. But with Will’s rancid Movember beard and Minnie (who’s currently 11 going on 17) pulling this horrendous Love Island pout in every photo, the end result didn’t quite have the Patek Philippe ad vibe I was going for. 

Will and I ended up having a massive row in the car, triggered by me saying — and I stand by this — that Movember was “a bit noughties”. Weirdly, he seemed more offended by this than when I later accused the beard of sabotaging Hector’s entire future.

By the time we were home, he’d called me “shallow”, “legitimately insane” and “unsupportive” of him and his chosen charity (something to do with men). Because of the charity angle I couldn’t actually force him to shave, so on Sunday we got Rollo, my sweet fashion photographer friend, to take some pictures of us around the kitchen island. Even they weren’t great (definitely need to do something to my face, also regretting Hague Blue for the cabinets). 

I genuinely think Will and I are the only dual-British couple in his whole school

The photoshoot took all afternoon, and Will wouldn’t let go how originally I’d said it was madness to hire a photographer for this stuff. Massively missing the point, because we weren’t paying Rollo. Annoyingly, this was the moment my friend Kate arrived to return the reusable llama piñata she borrowed for her twins’ sixth birthday. 

Had to explain why there was all this lighting rigged up in the kitchen — galling because Kate’s kids go to Eleanor Palmer, a random state primary everyone in Tufnell Park is obsessed with because Giles Coren once wrote about it. She did her usual suppressed-mirth-and-incredulity-at-private-schools face. Had to resist speculating on the amount she’ll have to spend on tutors to get the twins into City or UCS when the time comes.

Selfies aside, the really pressing angst is Hector not being even bi-lingual when every other child taking the seven plus in his class has at least three languages. I genuinely think Will and I are the only dual-British couple in his whole school. 

Anyway my insomnia is crazy at the moment, so I keep imagining a parallel life where I’ve married Pascal (French ex) and our children are all naturally bronzed and photogenic and fluent in French, and maybe also Portuguese because I think his dad was Brazilian. Then obviously I feel overwhelming maternal shame and self-loathing. Although it has to be said Pascal would never do Movember.

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