“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.
We’re jumping into a pile of leaves under the big conker tree at the corner of the playground; me and a handful of dots. The colours glow in the late afternoon sun and, once we’ve finished jumping, me and the dots, we start to choose our favourite leaves. We run our fingers over the veins, the shape, the edges. We compare colours, textures, smell. It’s a rather magical way to spend time on an October afternoon. And I’m being paid for it!
This weekend, I have been trying to blog about the refugee crisis. Indeed, I actually finished a blog this morning, but when I read it back it was just too trite and banal for something so horribly complex and difficult. So I deleted it.
And blogging about anything else at the moment feels like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Shall we talk about The Archers instead?
Or I could tell you about trying to stem the flow of blood from Marigold’s nose this afternoon, while we waited for the Welfare Officer.
“She likes patterns.”
There is a general nodding, particularly from the distaff side of the class. “She wears a lot of patterns,” confirms one ten year old fashionista.
“And stripes,” adds another.
“And chunky jewellery.”
I write ‘patterns and stripes’ on the white board and the class won’t let me rest until I have added ‘chunky jewellery’. Then we try and think of further inspiration for our dormant muses. For, while Mrs Berry is at her daughter’s graduation, Class Five and I are sneakily preparing the farewell book which we will be her present at the end of term, when she sets sail to become Deputy Head of Woolly Meadows Primary School.
“I’ve never married an actor before,” beams the Rev Tom Holst as he smiles over his lectern.
“I’ve never married a vicar,” mutters ActorLaddie, winning him the first frown of our married life.
“It might put an extra strain on your marriage. If you become famous, everyone will want to be your friend,” warns the Rev.
A good point – and one ActorLaddie took to heart there and then by resolving never to become famous; a resolution he has kept, so far. Marrying an actor has been – and continues to be – good fun – a bit like having a living lottery ticket. But, in truth, you’re only likely to recognise him in the street if you’re a massive fan of that classic piece of American docudrama “The New Adventures of Robin Hood (not forgetting the Warrior Marion)” in which ActorLaddie played an assortment of priests, lords, villagers and sorcerers.
I head into After School club to donate some cakes left over from a playground sale of … well, cakes. We’re raising money at Thrush Woods to sponsor Faith, who’s running the London Marathon next week for Parkinson’s UK. A couple of mixed infants skip up to me, arm in arm.
“Have you still got Parkinson’s?” asks one.
“OK.” And they skip off.
“It was normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their children. And with good reason…”
(Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four)
“Time for our news books – I want you to draw me a picture of something that you did at the weekend and then – using your sounds – to have a go at writing a sentence or two underneath.”
(Every teacher of young children, everywhere.)