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.
1. This summer, I wittered on a bit…
“I’ve got this clear memory of being at school – it must have been more than 65 years ago – and our teacher said something about Parkinson’s. I went home and asked my mum what it was. She frowned a little, then told me it was a brand of cigarettes. So when the teacher asked the next day what we remembered about Parkinson’s…”
There is a chortle across the room from the thirty-odd Rotarians who are listening to Colin thanking me for my first ‘after-lunch’ speech. They seem an affable bunch of chaps – they are all chaps, so just me and the waitress holding up the distaff side of things. Which is a slightly strange experience, vaguely reminiscent of taking Physics A Level.
“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.