About to dive headfirst into the whirling chaos that is the school gates, I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn. Mme A is standing there, looking impossibly chic with an unreadable expression on her perfectly made-up face.
"I must speek wiz you," she says.
"OK," I push the kids through the gate, where they are immediately swallowed up by a mass of violently flailing limbs, then step to one side to let the other latecomers through.
Mme A has adopted a combative stance. "Eez it true that your cheeld 'as geeven ze teecher a ring? And zis is OK wiz you? Eez it? Eez it?"
She has gone mad... insane... all those years of dietary deprivation have finally come home to roost. I smile, trying to placate the poor woman."Erm, yes. It was a plastic ring from her dressing up box. Why shouldn't it be OK?"
Mme A looks as if she is about to explode, "My Henri is doing ze copy-cat! He 'as been steeling my rings and geeving zem to ze teecher! Eet is 'orrible!" She puffs wildly, "Zen zis morning I catch 'im red-'anded wiz my Cartier watch! Tryeeng to sneek it in 'is book bag!"
She glares at me, does that peculiar French thing that sounds like "Boof!" and flounces off.
As it turns out, the other kids in Year One were so impressed with Firstborn's generosity that it sparked a trend. 30 five and six year-olds have been vying with each other to bring the sparkliest, shiniest item of jewellery they can beg, steal or borrow; some considering the maternal jewellery box to be fair game. I, of course, am being blamed for the whole unfortunate situation by a number of irate mamans with misplaced family heirlooms.
It could only happen in Kensington...