Thursday, 19 June 2008

It's For You

Today S had his induction morning at the local primary school he will be attending from next October. He already goes to nursery at the same school so he is thoroughly at home in the building and because his big brother is already there he is positively chomping at the bit to get started. Polly took him along and handed him over to the tender mercies of Mrs Waddington and he trotted off without a backward glance. Polly had to stay and sit through the talk given by the Headteacher to new parents despite having heard it all before.


A few minutes in to the talk a mobile (cell) phone tunefully burst into life and everyone, some thirty or so people, patted their pockets and looked in their bags the way we all do these days. The Headteacher paused patiently for whoever whose phone it was to switch it off. Twenty nine people sighed with relief that it wasn't theirs and looked around for the guilty party. I don't know what you would have done, dear reader, but I suspect most of us would have frantically fiddled with the damned thing and switched it off as quickly possible, mouthing apologies and looking sheepish. Just possibly you might have glanced to see who was calling in case it was an emergency; and if it was you'd exit quietly and try to communicate telepathically to everyone how absolutely urgent the call is. What you probably wouldn't do is answer it and carry on a conversation at normal volume while your child's future Headteacher tries to explain the schools literary policy. Would you?


As Polly tells it, the Head carried on for a while against a background of a gentleman chatting obliviously to a friend or colleague. After a bit she stopped talking and waited for him to realise he was causing a disruption. He didn't. “Sunday? Yes, I'm free Sunday. How about at eleven? I think we should meet at. . .” And so on. She stared at him. Everybody stared at him. The Headteacher coughed politely. “Take the first left after The Rose and Crown then turn right in to Stafford Road. . .” She coughed again, louder this time. “There's a multi-story you can park in. . .” The Head finally cracked. “Excuse me,” she said. He carried on. “Excuse me!”


Everyone in the hall was by now back in their own school halls, all eight years old. Beads of sweat appeared on the forehead of the man directly in line of sight of the by now simmering Headteacher. Somebody poked the man on the phone. He looked up startled. “Hang on a second, mate,” he told the person he was talking to. “Yes?” “Perhaps,” said the Head, “you could take your conversation outside. . . so my talk doesn't disturb you.”


Someone next to Polly muttered, “I pity his kid. Their card`s marked.”


“Shh...,” said Polly. “You'll get us detention.”