They were small stones, and not much damage was done, but we were unaware that the headteacher was watching from his office. Out he came, and took the three of us back through the empty, echoing school, and gave us each two of the belt. Even at that age I was aware of a vague sense of injustice. He was a friend of my dad’s, and, by the time I got home, the message had already been phoned: “He wasn’t throwing any stones, but it’s a good lesson about the company he keeps.”
I see two middle aged deputy headteachers lurking in bushes on the fringes of an industrial estate.
I should probably explain!
Our school won a national award for health promotion. We were obviously delighted and, as for elite athletes, there followed predictable approbation and recognition.
When bidding for major sports events, the talk is generally of legacy; afterwards, the ‘L’ word fades somewhat, and it’s all about medals and success.
He was the first voice in the aftermath of the murders to propose the incredible; that pupils’ safety would be improved if all teachers were armed in the classroom.
Reacting to his interviewer’s consternation, he went on to say: “After all, in most states we can carry guns in shopping malls, and in parks, why not in schools? How are schools different?”
Hearing this remarkable sound bite, I was first of all confused: was it a rhetorical question, or was he genuinely ignorant of the role and ethos of schools?
There was a quotation from snowboarder, Emilio Previtali: In every life, there are only a few epic minutes.
As sometimes happens, the thought remained in my head; in fact, it nagged away like a drawing pin stuck to the heel of my shoe, clicking all the way home.
What were my epic minutes?
There have been a number – spread across family, sports events, concerts, and travel - and then I thought of the classroom.
The grass was still lush, and the cricket pavilion, even closed down for winter, exhibited a kind of relaxed insouciance. The trees and foliage displayed fifty shades of autumnal brown.
It was busy. There were runners on the paths, and, on neighbouring pitches, two games of lacrosse – men’s and women’s.