"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19
"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Sponsored Walk Day
It's been an odd week.
We started with the biennial sponsored walk. The lowering grey skies do not bode well. Sammi arrives in registration, limping.
"I thought I'd walk today instead of getting the bus."
Who, in their right mind, walks to school in new trainers on the only day of the year when registration is followed by a compulsory ten mile walk?
The children are assembled, shivering - this is the British summer after all - to be given a range of stirring inspirational speeches by members of staff who, as soon as the kids depart into the drizzle, will slope off to the staffroom for a restorative coffee.
The kids look less than convinced.
As ever there is a wide array of completely unsuitable clothing on display: flip-flops, gladiator sandals and very short shorts (good luck with the bramble patches and stinging nettles) and, as we later discover, a youth dressed as a banana. (And why not?)
"Mr. Jones told me not to wear it."
But I see you are, nevertheless.
"It's really hot in here so I took my pants off before I set off."
Banana skin or bare skin? Tough call. Are the local community ready for a fourteen year old streaker? That might be too fruity. We assume not and send him on his way.
The weather improves and the sun even shines for minutes on end. I am on direction duty at a confusing junction of footpaths. This is ironic as I have no idea where I am, having driven here with Bill in Heather's car.
About an hour and a half early.
We sit in Heather's car and I start to sort out class lists for next year's Yr. 10 R.S. groups. I can see Bill and Heather are impressed, between their regular sloping off into the bushes for a smoke.
Why do you keep doing that?
"I don't want the kids to know I smoke."
I consider the very personal miasma of aftershave and stale cigarette smoke Bill inhabits and wonder how many of his charges haven't already sussed him.
Apart from one diabetic girl who needed to be picked up by the roving minibus (following the eating of most of my packed lunch to raise her sugar levels) ours is an uneventful way station. Bored, Heather goes in search of a sandwich shop. As each new group of hormones hoves into view around the bend, I scan for familiar faces. My colleague Karl wanders by looking super-cool and offers me an insouciant finger.
Bill puts into words what I am thinking. "Should we send this lot the wrong way?" A lout of boys has meandered into view. It is all the usual suspects.
"Sir, sir. Give us a wave." they chorus. They have clearly had a lot of opportunities on the way round to trial this.
Bill and I ignore them.
There is booing.
I offer a very half-hearted wave.
There is cheering and they wander by hitting each other randomly.
Their passing brings a return to a pastoral idyl.
Heather returns with a very substantial lunch and we eat in reflective contentment.
"Who wants the chocolate brownie?"
Not me. I'm allergic to chocolate.
Bill and Heather look at me as if I have just announced that I have a terminal illness.
"Allergic to chocolate? I'm soooo sorry." Heather offers.
This turns out not to be strictly true. I have been taking Citoxamine and I developed a rash. I then did what all doctors hate us for: I hit the INTERNET and found a fascinating study from the University of Ulan Bator linking skin rashes with a combo of Citoxamine and chocolate. I had had a large piece of chocolate cake the night before. It all fitted and, satisfied with my watertight self-diagnosis, I pronounced myself allergic to chocolate. (Three days later I would conduct a controlled experiment with another piece of chocolate cake to no reaction at all, but, by then I'd been treated to all the symathy due to a man destined for a hospice, so I kept quiet.)
It was quite an interesting rash as it happened. It started in the palms of my hands which I thought was incredibly fortuitous as I'd only been discussing stigmata with Yr 9 last week. I could be a visual aid and .... but the thought of all the potential press attention put me off, what with me being a retiring sort of chap.
Towards the back of the now dwindling crowd, members of my form appear. Sammi is being carried piggyback.
"Hi Sir. It's great this."
Bill looks at me.
Don't even think about it.