We have discovered a secret cult.
Every week in an unimposing church hall in Clerkenwell a group of parents and children meet to indulge in what is best described as a preschool underground rave.
Passed along the grapevine in hushed tones, “Have you been to Harriette’s?” Mrs H and the Sing-Along Band leads a session that, compared to your average mother and baby sing-along, is like stepping down the rabbit hole.
Sixteen weeks into motherhood, I have become accustomed to sitting cross legged in circles singing The Wheels On The Bus while my baby sleeps or scrabbles greedily at my T-shirt, oblivious of my attempts to get her to do the actions.
The most musical things had really got was when one rather showy mother sang harmonies to If You’re Happy And You Know It. Her vibrato efforts seemed more suited to an X Factor audition than the panel of tired mums and disinterested infants around her, and I found myself taking an intense interest in my baby’s drool as l pretended not to notice.
There is nothing subdued about Mrs H’s performances.
Parents arrive early to get a good spot, whispering excitedly about what might be in store, while musicians tune up in a corner and toddlers dash to the front in anticipation.
As the band struck up with their opening number I started to feel a little awkward that I didn’t know the words.
Suddenly the lights were dimmed, highlighting a ceiling hung with fairy lights and lanterns and the whole room began to rock and roll.
My daughter gazed in wonder as Mrs H began singing, dancing and leading her followers in merry abandon.
Parents swayed and jigged along while a delighted swarm of children bounced off each other to the music, throwing balls and shaking tambourines.
Mothers who looked like they might normally be the type to hover nervously around their little treasures, smiled as they peered into the mayhem, just to check their child had not been crushed in the stampede.
In one corner a father stripped down to a vest and bare feet as he became slave to the rhythm, whirling his children around by the arms.
When the carnival came to an end I stumbled blinking back into the street, my daughter fast asleep in her pram, where she remained out for the count for several hours.
We had a slightly less harmonious experience when some music students visited our baby group recently.
Promised children to “workshop”, three undergraduates, wrapped in ethnic prints they’d no doubt picked up on their Gap Year, arrived in the middle of play time with a double bass, a drum and a viola.
Looking bewildered at the motley crew of pre-walkers around them, they declared they were used to working with older children, before attempting to lead the babies in singing a lullaby in Japanese.
They didn’t seem to notice most of their audience could only just about grasp onto the bells and shakers they handed out as they explained the tempo was in 6/8, but appeared perturbed when their class did not manage to keep time accurately.
I was a little surprised when they insisted they world return at the same time next week.
But when we arrived for Baby Stay and Play, we found the troupe had demanded older children from Nursery and had commandeered the playroom for their performance space.
We mothers were all in tune with one another as we complained about being stuck in a small and dingy room next door, with a few toys shoved on the floor.
The Wheels On The Bus now became our protest anthem as we competed loudly against the students’ World Music.
Needless to say it was they who have been relegated to the store cupboard from now on.