In an ideal world the children would happily sit in a darkened room, watching the full 5 hour version of ‘Das Boot’, with English subtitles and no sound. The teacher meanwhile would lie in the corner of the classroom and simply allow themselves to recover. This though is not an ideal world and after last night’s end of term drinks party, there was no place for the teachers to hide.
I’d suggested Zak either play an elaborate game of Hide and Seek (where I count up to a thousand) or ‘Sleeping Lions’, where the lions are comatose. Thankfully, he was as tired as I was. We instead watched ‘Mr Bean’s Holiday’ in the library. Zak either deconstructed every scene or told me what was about to happen next. I was too tired to protest. Even during the lighter moments, he would pepper me with questions like “are you afraid of dying?” The fact he did this while dancing to Mr Bombastic made it even odder.
‘Sports Day’ in the rain wasn’t supposed to fun for anyone. One anguished child approached me to ask if it might be cancelled. “Please rain more” he said looking hopefully heavenwards. The post-alcohol delirium made it good fun for the adults. With blurred vision and muddled minds we may not have followed the correct rules for each event, but who cares if you’re playing it properly? It’s the taking part that counts (try telling that to the miserable kid though).
With just a week to go till the end of term, the behaviour of those about to leave the School is understandably wayward. Zak stared regretfully at his unrequited love interest, as she stood to receive applause on her last day (she is leaving School early to go to Iran). Her shirt was covered in goodwill messages, as is the standard practice among kids on their last day. “Will people write nice things on my shirt?” Zak asked. “I’m sure they will” I replied, although I might need some Tipp-Ex to hand.
As I read ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’ to him in the library, one passage showed an uncanny parallel with our own relationship.
I talked to him of the outside world, and the more I talked the more he seemed to become interested. Of course, I never spoke of the wars and famines and disasters. I painted the best picture of the world I could. There was so much he didn’t know. These things took some explaining, I can tell you.
For example, we looked at the topic of animal testing. I explained both sides of the story and Zak decided on the argument against. “I’m an animal lover” he declared “they should not harm animals, ever!”. I complimented him on his compassionate stance. Zak paused, his eyes widening “are we going to do some animal testing?”.