Keeping up with the Janeses

A friend of mine showed me an hysterical email this week from her son’s new ‘Class Rep’. I am using ‘hysterical’ in both senses of the word, because firstly, the woman who sent it clearly has some major issues, and secondly it made me laugh uncontrollably that someone has worked so hard to conform to a stereotype that they’ve actually gone one further and become one.

The email went something along the lines of being terribly upset at the rest of the mums in the class for not all committing to attend a voluntary social function, insisting that it was insulting to her as organiser and had destroyed the spirit of the team. Despite the fact that the other mums who said they could go are still going, she has refused to attend, in the process alienating herself and making everyone else feel really awkward and slightly incredulous at the childishness of it all. It’s four weeks into the school year and she’s throwing her toys out of the pram and calling people names. I can only imagine what she’ll be like by International Day.

I’m rather thankful that I don’t run into many of these VIMs (Very Important Mothers). We live a relatively small development in Dubai, that appears to have mostly escaped infection, and due to my inability to be socially fully-functional I’ve successfully managed to befriend a total of zero of these horror show alpha-mums during my six years in the city. Even better, my son goes to the local school that no-one has ever heard of and is American curriculum anyway, so I’ve successfully swerved the typical (mainly) Brit-expat-mum nightmare of early morning fashion parades, pushy class reps and competitive parenting – the ‘Jumeirah Janes’, if you will – in favour of a far more laid back approach with mums who just want to create a community without all the pomp and circumstance and designer maxi dresses.

The term ‘Jumeirah Jane’ was coined many years ago, essentially to describe the non-working expat wives and mothers who hung out in coffee shops along Beach Road and relied on each other for support in the days when it really mattered – when it was a small town and people needed each other. I believe they gave themselves the name. It has altered over time from a rather catchy and fun definition into something of a blanket insult to all mildly unpleasant expat wives who don’t work, get their maid to bring up the children, and then bitch about it over coffee. I hate it when people label me as a Jane. Which has been known to happen, although I’d like to think once they get to know me, they see I’m just not committed enough to the cause to be a fully paid up member. But before anyone says ‘I think thou dost protest too much’, I guess I’ll admit I’ve been around long enough in Dubai to have a little bit of Jane rub off on me. But it doesn’t sit with me easily, and when I recognise it in myself I run my head into the nearest wall at high speed so it doesn’t happen again. Jane is the devil’s work, a beast to seduce even the most normal of women into ridiculous behaviour. It is a constant battle to resist the call of the honey highlights, neutral toned designer wardrobe and french manicures and remain with ten slutty-red painted toes planted firmly on the ground.

Anyway, as a bit of fun to stretch the poetic muscles a little, I put together a ditty in honour of the Class Rep who Shall Remain Nameless, because I think she, along with a few other horror stories I have heard of late, has managed to epitomise for me the spirit of the modern-day Jane, and has served as a reminder once more as to why I will never succumb to Janedom  – or VIMming for that matter. Enjoy.

I’m Jane, I’m a VIM, and I live in Dubai
My husband’s in oil or construction
I’m blessed with four children, a dog and a maid
And with Harvey Nicks and Bloomies to raid
I don’t have much time for a job I’m afraid
So I simply meet friends for luncheon

I’m Jane, I’m a VIM, and I live in Dubai
I have poker straight yellow hair
My forehead’s been smoothed and my arse has been sucked
My boobs have been lifted, my tummy’s been tucked
I’m regularly sanded and waxed and plucked
To look just like the others, so there.

I’m Jane, I’m a VIM, and I live in Dubai
I’m dressed just a shade less than mutton
My sunglasses perch on my head at all times
My iphone is poised to snap fashion crimes
If you see a white Prado it’s probably mine
(But my K-middy accent is put-on)

I’m Jane, I’m a VIM,and I live in Dubai
In a villa that’s been in ‘Ahlan’
My jewellery collection is big on the bling
No Karama for me, my Birkin’s the real thing
I bake cupcakes and daily I go to the gym
I’m a totally friggin’ perfect woman

I’m Jane, I’m a VIM, and I live in Dubai
I am fabulous, witty and rich
I have friends by the dozen to call on for tea
To play status games with surreptitiously
(I am sure that they secretly want to be me
Even though I am such an old bitch)

I’m Jane, I’m a VIM, and I live in Dubai
My career is to be a good wife
With no credit card limit I cannot complain
My identikit friends keep me reasonably sane
I’ll put up with Dubai ’til we move yet again
To the next tax free bolt hole in life

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