The fizz in my solar plexus is almost intolerable: reports are in the system, the final lessons are dripping through my fingers like heather honey, and there’s even time to lift my head and survey the children – not as an assessor, but solely in loco parentis.
Despite being as guilty as the next, hollowed-out husk of a pedagogue: of counting getty-uppies from the beginning of the final term of the year (okay, I admit it: the beginning of the year); those final, dust-settling days give me an opportunity to get amongst my miniature peeps and simply enjoy the fleeting of their company. (There are six more getty-uppies – five if you’re only counting teaching days.)
Obstinacies, minor distractions, smells, mispellings and reluctances to read are all set aside in this blissful, last armistice. We can get on with decorating the class’s Christmas tree, rehearsing our various performances and achieving the annual closure that we richly deserve – me especially.
And this year I’m coming home to Blighty. For a short while at least.
I haven’t worked in the UK for nigh on seven years (beggars belief to think of that). I haven’t sat in an English pub for two years. I’m ready for all the goss I’ve missed: the political, the personal, the domestic and the divine.
What have I missed? Good grief, the list is long.
The decline of Labour; the rise of Austerity; Gove, Morgan, Gibb; academies, free schools, life after levels, (#butwithlevels); new freedoms under old restrictions; the inexorable rise of property prices and rentals, and the consequent squeeze on teachers’ circumstances; the recruitment ‘challenge’ that is only a crisis if your hymn sheet is not Nick Gibb’s hymn sheet (which is the sheet music for ‘Happy Talk’ – only accelerated and sung by a choir of chipmunks – happy chipmunks, I should add… happily).
What else have I missed, whilst busily scoffing oversized prawns? Progressive is a thing no longer to be, unless you want to be blobb. The verbal pinpointing of ‘enemies of promise’ and ‘soft bigotries’ (which are still, presumably, a bit better than your common-or-garden, hard bigotries) have arisen as overpowering rhetorical barbs – as rich and pungent as 80’s perfume settling over your nan.
There’s so much to catch up on. I’m not so much out of the loop, as dancing gaily miles distant over the way, blissfully unaware of the loop. “Loop?” I say, “What loop?” And I laugh a fizzing, frothing laugh, with a mouthful of Refreshers.
“Tula rula, gammon and spinach,” say I, in my smiling, still frothing ignorance – clicking my heels homeward and wending up the path to your door.
I may be ignorant, but I’m not returning empty-handed (how could I?). Gifts galore bear I (it is Christmas, after all).
Let’s see what Whats has for you in his army surplus, hard wearing canvas duffle bag. [Rifles through duffle bag.]
Well, there’s a Toblerone, for a start. And a set of panpipes. [Blows them as if to prove them.] Oh, and a copy of the Motorcycle Diaries (well-thumbed).
And here, wait for it, at the very bottom of the bag: from my heart to yours…
A new learning style.
I call it ‘Olfactory’, but you can call it ‘Olly’ for short. You can put it on the side next to the others.
[Beams in anticipation of your gratitude.]
Where are the others?