The evening entertainment is a bawdy affair. Swarms of sweaty children weave in and out of chairs and tables whilst bored parents sit torpidly nursing glasses of tart local wine.
Nobody knows about me: Mrs NMO.
We have only engaged with a few families, smiling absently when our children have crossed paths briefly, never divulging more than which airport we flew out of. In the dim light human puppet shadows streak across the walls, bulging shapes emphasized by the fluorescent spotlights. Diabetes and heart disease slide awkwardly into the chairs next to us, flesh cascading over the arm rests. The movement causes the residue of cigarettes, after shave and stale beer to meander our way; my nose twitches its disapproval.
Loud music snaps my head back up and I find myself sniggering quietly into my warm glass. A moment of pure joy is about to play out in front of me….again.
I can only assume it is one of the male staff members that dons the shabby dog suit every evening at 8pm. Playing the pied piper he collects frenzied small people and leads a fevered trail around the room. Swaggering in an animal suit is challenging but I give him credit for trying to maintain some cool.
My son is at the other side of the dated ballroom but spots Mr Smiley as he snakes back around. Grinning inanely he lowers his blonde head ready to charge. It makes me smile how for the last 6 nights Mr Smiley has not seen my son coming; and when the moment of impact arrives he still never manages to deflect the highly accurate right hook to his groin.
I can only imagine the grimace and muttered Arabic oaths inside that furry dog head.