YOU can tell it’s getting towards the end of term in our house when the sewing kit comes out. I say ‘sewing kit,’ but I actually mean a reel of black cotton with a needle stuck in it. We might also have a spool of white, somewhere. Despite being descended from good Northern stock for whom sewing and knitting seems am effortless joy, I’m not one of life’s darners. However, when you have three sons who play football on Tarmac playgrounds, and school trousers cost around £14 a pop for the older boys, it can get expensive. First it’s the hems that go, usually in the first couple of months. I sew them up, usually too tightly, giving a slightly ruched look. Then it’s the knees. I’m not great at patching worn holes, but I can handle a clean tear. And I even sewed myself a pouch on a string to hold my stupid new mobile phone for when I don’t have pockets. Usually, you have to buy a few ‘official’ items like sweatshirts, blazers and sports kit from the school, and then can buy generic trousers, shirts, polos, dresses, skirts and shoes. Back in September, our eldest, Jed, was given his blazer, tank-top, tie and sports kit as part of the deal to turn his school into an academy. The blazer seemed big on him then, and I hoped it would last a couple of years. But already the sleeves have started to look too short. He’s on his second pair of shoes (third if you count the black trainers he borrowed from his brother to tide him over until the Easter holidays). He came home last week with a massive tear in the backside of his only school trousers (two pairs bought, one lost). “I was playing football at break and I stuck my leg out too far. It was embarrassing, as a load of girls were standing behind me, if that’s any consolation” Two days later Dougie, whose official uniform cost £100 back in September, rang me after school. “Can you pick me up? I’ve got a big hole in my trousers. I’ve had to put my sports shorts on underneath.” Yes, he too was playing football at breaktime. The elder boys’ trousers were split on the seam, so were easy enough to sew up. Double stitched. Not neat, but hopefully strong enough to last them for the last few weeks before summer. As I was sorting the washing at the weekend, I found Billy’s school trousers. They have a hole in the knee. Probably from football. I’m not good with holes. I’m sure he won’t mind doing the last half term in shorts. . ?