Elizabeth popped up in my dreams last night; just as Hale and Hearty, Stuff and Nonsense as she was the week I started teaching in the adjoining classroom at Thrush Woods. Middle Infants – me, and she had Tops. We bonded a couple of days into my first week, when a passing ‘what are you doing with your lot this afternoon?’ revealed a shared love of Schools’ Television.
We are discussing a comprehension paper on ‘Discoveries’, Class Six and I. One of the Gentleman Scientists discussed (and they are all gentleman, alas) was Alexander Graham Bell. I happen to know everything about the telephone, having read a couple of paragraphs on the subject once in a Bill Bryson book. So I share with the class my favourite fact, namely that, until Alexander’s friend Mr Watson invented the telephone bell some years later, the only way to know if someone was telephoning you was to pick up the receiver and check if they were on the other end.
One of the lassies frowns and raises her hand. “Even if it didn’t ring, you’d know someone was calling because the phone would vibrate,” she suggests. There is general agreement, swiftly followed by mild astonishment when I explained that the original phone neither rung nor vibrated. I didn’t break it to them that it didn’t take photos either: humankind cannot bear very much reality.
Today I am covering Mrs Grenfell’s class and am under instructions to lead a discussion on different sorts of airborne travel: aeroplanes, helicopters, rockets and the like.
“I have something sad to tell you about Mrs Sugarsprinkles,” I start. The children glance at Mrs Sugarsprinkles, who attempts to look grave. “At the weekend,” I continue, “she got stuck on a desert island.” I draw on the whiteboard a stick figure with a sad face and long hair, standing by herself under a tree on a small island. I add some surrounding sea and sharks fins, in an attempt to rack up the excitement. Bit of a masterpiece, if I say so myself. Continue reading →
“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.
Just putting finishing touches to tomorrow’s post. In the meantime…
“So I called the boys into my office and we had a very stern conversation about swearing in the playground … the need for the oldest children in the school to act as good role models … the consequences should this behaviour recur. Then I sent them off to apologise to the dinner ladies.
“I watched them walk down the corridor and, as they turned the corner, Yob 1 turned to Yob 2 and, um, did this …”
“That’s my bike, I never stealed it.”
Mrs Berry gives Scoundrel one of her Hard Stares; always effective and now finely honed by her elevation to Deputy Head in one of the toughest areas of the borough. I like to think that at this stage she looked sternly over her spectacles, a move guaranteed to send fear into the most hardened of miscreants. I’ve seen her do this to great effect in many a staff meeting.
“Who’s he? Have we seen him before?”
“He’s married to the woman who posts the blog.”
“The vlog. We’ve established it’s a vlog.”
“Yes her. With the blond hair.”
“OK. Can you pause it a minute? OK. Tak.”
Put aside quilt. Dash into bedroom and return with reel of thread. Install self back on sofa and start to thread needle.
“OK?” says ActorLaddie. “Say when.”
“Nu. Tak… Hang on – who’s he? Is that the Russian Roulette guy?”
“Well, I suppose you could type your reports on the computer…” Mr OldHeadteacher hesitates. I just wouldn’t want them to lose the personal touch.”
They won’t. I promise they won’t. They’ll be ever so personal, really. And faster, so much faster. Because I can type faster than I write. And I won’t mac a slip up in mi spilling. Computers cheque your spilling.