Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Day Out.

Compared with taking 40 grown women on a coach trip, which generally results in tears and tantrums and that’s only the driver, my first foray into the organising of a school trip was a breeze. There was a certain amount of paperwork to do, namely booking a coach with the best quote. Done that hundreds of times. A letter of courtesy had to be drafted to the manager of our destination so that he could psyche himself up for the onslaught of 31 teenagers and of course a letter had to be written to parents asking for their consent to take their little darlings out of school. The rest of it was plain sailing as, apart from issuing instructions to the children, I had other people to do things for me. Various offices at school collected the money and did the maths and paid the coach company. Someone else wrote a list of names. All that was left for me to do was photocopy the list and pin it up around school. I doubt very much if anyone missed little Johnny, but had they, then at a glance, they would have been rather relieved to find that he was not in school but indeed sitting at the back of the bus making rude gestures at Ginsters’ lorry drivers.
“Johnny!” I rebuked.
“Sorry miss”
I glanced at my checklist and then glanced out of the window. McDonalds was at the bottom of the hill, we were nearly there. I stood up and held on.
“Right then everyone. We are almost at Kingsley village. Can you all make sure that you look vaguely presentable. Smarten your ties, tie up your shoelaces.”
They all stopped chatting and looked out of the window.
“Alright miss! We’re going to McDonalds”. A chorus of ‘Old McDonald had some burgers’ ensued, along with an appeal for thirty Big Macs. The head of English who had accompanied me, looked solemn and wrote some notes on her clipboard.
Bugger. I had to get control. Fast.
The bus pulled up and the driver switched off the engine.
“As you know we are not going to McDonalds”. Cue a chorus of groans. “We are however going to look around Kingsley village. I expect impeccable manners. We will split into groups and we will take notes whilst we are there. Look at the marketing, colours, brand, logo and design”.
We trooped off the bus and an hour and a half later trooped back on. There were no incidents. I’d even managed some surreptitious shopping whilst the Head of English turned her back. No-one had lifted anything, or broken anything. No-one had been arrested. Everyone in fact had listened and exhibited impeccable manners and some staff there even approached me to tell me so. This was nothing like taking ladies to Cardiff for the day. There I had lost a proportion of them on the coldest day of the year, and as for last year’s trip? Well, I still come out in hives thinking about it. Was it my fault the bus broke down or that the rain was relentless? Was I honestly going to compensate everyone for jumping ship early and making their own, very expensive way home instead of waiting for the mechanic? Given the general level of aggression aimed in my direction, they evidently thought so.
I arrived home that night to find Hubby lamenting. I was tired. I was hungry. I had mouths to feed and young minds to inspire but somewhere in my day, I had also to find time to pat the dog and let my husband feel like a lover. When one is up to one’s elbows in washing up gloves and suds, mentally planning the following day’s lesson, a plan that should have been submitted 12 hours previously, the last thing one honestly wants to do is kiss like a film star. Hubby had other ideas and after a full on five minuets of snogging I really had to protest.
“Unhand me!”
“But I never see you”, he pouted. At this point I could have gone down the avenue of marital discord and said “I’m a navy wife. Welcome to my world”. Instead, which probably wasn’t any more soothing I reminded him that the next day, I wouldn’t be home until 11pm.
“Why?”, he asked stricken. I sighed.
“Because I am accompanying four 6th form students to Exeter”. He still looked blank.
“They are in a public debate competition against three other teams. It’s the south west semi- final”.
“What schools are they up against?” asked Hubby, hell bent on seducing me. I pushed his hands away.
“Posh ones”.
“Good luck to them then”. Oh ye of little faith. What with expert coaching from their teacher and me, their natural talent, ebullience and enunciation, they bloody well won! I was the crazy teacher screeching and clapping like a sea-lion at the back. My colleagues looked at me askance. I looked back. Hey, I’m trying to follow the party line in all things ‘teachery’ but don’t try and knock my inherent enthusiasm. It’s like believing in fairies, say you don’t and one will die. Ask me to be un-animated and so will I.

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