“I’m sorry to have to tell you that I’m leaving.”
Oh no! Mrs Franklin has been Headteacher of Thrush Woods for just four terms, but we all really like her. This is bad news. I put down my cutlass and rummage in my frock-coat for a tissue. Mrs Franklin is also wiping away tears with one of her patchwork ears.
“I’m sure you’re aware that I’ve had some ups and downs with the governing body. I don’t think they’ve ever really come to terms with Mr Old-Headteacher leaving and we’ve not seen eye to …
“Pieces of eight! Pieces of – .” Sorry, sorry, sorry: I fumble for the switch and stop my parrot mid-squawk. Mrs Franklin takes a deep breath.
“Anyway, in short, I’m moving on to become Head of NearbyReallyBig School. The Governors are letting me go at Christmas. I’m telling you first and I’ll tell the rest of the staff lunchtime.”
I look over to Elizabeth, fellow member of the Senior Management Team: a traditionally build lady who is dressed this Book Day as the Bed from the Princess and the Pea, thereby enabling her to come to school wearing a comfortable duvet cover. She’s blowing her nose on a pillowcase.
“Congratulations. We’ll really miss you,” I say. “Would you like us to take this morning’s assembly – give you a bit of time?” Mrs Franklin pauses then shakes her head.
“No thanks. Business as usual.” Then, stately as a galleon, she sails down to the playground; patchwork ears, trunk and all. There’s a professional for you.
It is a closely kept secret that teachers are specifically trained to maintain order whilst wearing fancy dress. They start us off with a tea towel to be worn on the head while telling Bible stories. Then onto mortar boards for Victorian re-enactments. Advanced teachers hope to progress to the level of our last Mr Headteacher who, even in frock, wig and full Widow Twanky make-up, could quieten a hallsworth of over-excited children with just a flutter of his eyelashes.
My mate Mrs Berry has now been a Deputy for a full two terms, so is approaching Jedi Master Level when it comes to dressing up. Hence, when a coven of Year Fives burst into her office on World Book Day, her authority was not in the least diminished by being dressed as Mrs Wobble the Waitress.
It took very little probing on her part to uncover the cause of the outrage: namely that one of their classmates – who for the purposes of this blog I shall call Flash Gordon – had gone up to the littlest witch and said: “would you like to see my penis?”
In due course, young Gordon was summoned to her office to explain himself.
“Do you know why you’re here?” she asked. Young Gordon nodded.
“I meant to say ‘I like your costume’,” he explained, “but instead I said “would you like to see my penis?” An easy mistake to make.
“You will need to apologise,” said Mrs Berry, “and I am going to need to talk to your grown-up.” So after school, Gordon reappeared in the office with his father, Gordon Senior, for whom English was very much a second language. Straightening her pinny, Mrs Berry explained to Gordon Senior that his son had upset his classmates by saying to one of the girls “would you like to see my penis?” Could he please have a serious talk with his son about this?
Gordon Senior frowned and stumbled through an approximation of: “I’m sorry. I don’t understand what it is that he said.”
Ah. Resisting the temptation to sketch a visual aid on her waitress’s pad, Mrs Berry ran through a few alternatives – ‘his private parts’ and so on – but was still met with incomprehension from Gordon Senior. Eventually she had to ask young Gordon to tell his father in his home language what it was that he’d said.
Gordon Senior was shocked, outraged, apologetic. “I am so shy,” he said, which Mrs Berry assumed meant that he was embarrassed. “I am so sorry. That is a bad thing to say.” Mrs Berry was assured that Young Gordon would be dealt with appropriately and started to show father and son to the door. As he went out, Gordon Senior apologised again and again. “I am so sorry. I wouldn’t even say that to my wife!”
Mrs Berry watched the two getting well out of earshot before wobbled her way back to her desk and dissolving into wobbly hysterical laughter. Luckily, she had a handy pinny on which to wipe away her tears.
It appears from my stats that someone in America read thirty seven of my posts yesterday. If it was you, I can only apologise for whatever it is that laid you up with only the Jelly Chronicles to keep you company. I hope you recover soon.