Over recent months we have heard more and more positive stories about the pratical and social benefits of membership to the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). Championed by parents who signed up and took part in the antenatal classes prior to the arrival of their own children, NCT has been sold to us as a must-attend series of classes at which we are apparently guaranteed to make friends for life.
The ever-sceptical cynic within me, however, can't help but feel slightly wary of friend-making events or, dare I say it, any form of 'networking' (meeting up with people you share nothing in common with and pretending to like them). So, ahead of last night's welcome evening - our first experience of NCT - I was understandably apprehensive.
It was, however, all a pleasant surprise, apart from the blatant fixing of the raffle.
Now, as you may well have concluded already if you're a regular reader, Mrs B and I are intensely competitive. So competitive in fact that we recently went head-to-head with a six-year-old and spent £10 on a 20p-per-ticket church charity tombola in order to ensure that we won the prize we were after and he didn't. Does that make us awful people?
Having sat through the entire NCT evening and enjoyed the various speakers, and armed with five raffle tickets, we were therefore hopeful of scooping at least one of the 28 prizes on offer. It was, we believed, a nailed on certainty that we'd walk away with some vouchers or at least some BuggyFit classes. As it turned out the odds were good, but the numbers weren't.
Our mood darkened. All of a sudden we were viewing our similarly conditioned peers with envious eyes and it didn't help matters that our table of six - with a combined total of 30 tickets - only managed to win a baby's rattle. It was a poor return on our investment.
From there the evening became a freebie-grabbing free-for-all as those who had failed in the raffle eyed up the free items on offer.Never before had we been so keen to get our hands on a hessian bag and baby's bib, but we weren't the only ones and, after all the bibs had been snapped up, a bidding frenzy ensued with dads around the room keen to swap blue for pink and vice versa, depending on the sex of their unborns. In the space of a few minutes we'd gone from a dignified sit down evening to the closing seconds of trading on the floor of the London stock exchange.
And this was the welcome evening, one can only imagine what the nearly new sales are like!
Regardless, however, Mrs B and I reflected on an entertaining evening in the car on the way home, secure in the knowledge that a last second deal with Table 4 had secured both pink and blue bibs for Baby B.
As for NCT, we're now really looking forward to starting the lessons in September.