The Cola Wars

Would taking on a great white shark armed only with a boogie board give someone the biggest rush of dread and adrenaline?. I’d volunteer sitting with an outspoken autistic child, during a talk by an Auschwitz survivor.

We had the honour of a Polish woman coming to talk of her experiences in the concentration camp. I could barely take in what was being said, not just because of the brutality and hardship she suffered, but also because this was an opportunity Zak could royally f**k up.

He raised his hand and before I could intercept him, asked if they served Pepsi there. I quickly altered his question to “what were they given to eat and drink?”. The look from the Head Teacher made it perfectly clear any further questions were to be filtered through me first.

Then, something unexpected happened. Whether it was the talk, the images shown or the hushed reverence around the room, but Zak began to comprehend. He asked only sensible questions after that and mentioned afterwards how lucky we all were not to have had such an experience.

Coincidentally, there was a touch of the Blitz spirit during the day. The Deputy Head helped in the canteen at lunchtime and the Head Teacher took a PE lesson. I did my bit for King and Country by taking a group of Year 1 kids for cricket. I also learnt a new equation, 8 x 5-year-old kids + cricket bats = tears before bedtime.

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