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Saturday, February 16, 2019

She'll Be Apples: A School Camp Story



“I’m perfectly happy to sit here for four hours doing nothing and we'll all miss out on the fun activities we have planned, until someone owns up,” my Year Six buddy teacher, Mrs V, declared in a commanding manner to the thirty-seven students on our school camp last week.

She was an unyielding iron statue. She would take no prisoners. Even I was full of unease.

We all nervously perched on chairs on the veranda, breath held, awaiting the guilty party to stumble forth, red-faced and remorseful.

Even I felt guilty, although I knew I was innocent.

At least I think I was.

No. I was.

I was definitely innocent.

We waited a long anxious few minutes for the devilish miscreant to reveal themselves.

Guilty looks exchanged under seventy-four fluttering sets of lashes.

Mrs. V sat; immovable and unblinking.

“I can understand that whoever it was, probably thought it would be a nice treat for the wildlife,” Mrs. V persisted in feigned compassion, “but this is NOT our house and we CAN NOT leave rubbish behind.”

But even this guileful tactic failed to lure the perpetrator into a public and possibly embarrassing confession.

We sat in tense silence. Feet timidly shuffled. Crickets chirruped.

I began to wonder if Mrs. V was serious about not doing the activities because, to be frank, I wouldn’t have minded sitting on the breezy veranda for four hours instead of running around in the hot sun playing a game of ‘cat and mouse’ with a bloody parachute.

“Three honest people have already owned up,” Mrs. V persevered. “That took a lot of courage. This last person needs to prove to us that they too, possess courage and leadership qualities…”

She was very good at what she was doing I’ll give her that. Drawing out the felon with flattery and sweet talk.

No one moved a muscle.

Mrs V retained her grim demeanour and I stood beside her, my arms crossed and wearing a pained, twitchy expression which was supposed to communicate extreme disappointment but was really from indigestion after scoffing my salad.

Of course, I knew we wouldn’t really sit there for four hours but I did speculate about how on Earth she was going to back down if nobody owned up.

There were four, random apple cores wantonly tossed over the veranda rails, during lunch.

Mrs. V had vowed not to budge until the final culprit had come clean, and evidently, this was not going to happen any time before Christmas.

That’s the trouble with threats. You have to be prepared to go through with them. I was glad it was her and not me.

Finally, a little boy stood up and a collective sigh spread through the throng.

It was tiny Horatio.

Out of all the students presently ensconced on the veranda with their saucer-like eyes bulging in apprehension at Mrs. V, tiny Horatio was the last I would have suspected of such a devious crime.

“Mrs. V,” he lisped sorrowfully. “It wasn’t me, but I’d like to go downstairs and pick up the apple core and put it in the bin for you.”

I could almost see the relief flood out of Mrs. V’s body. She’d been given a get out of jail free card.

“Thank you, Horatio,” she said pointedly. “Now everyone, go to the toilet and meet up in the hall so we can start our activities...”



“We could get the apple core tested for DNA,” I suggested helpfully as the kids all rushed off in excitement in search of water bottles.

Mrs V pointed up at the security cameras and grinned broadly. 
“We could tell them we just had a call from Security saying that they have a film of four children throwing apple cores over the railings.”

“We could say the police are inspecting the footage right now,” I added gleefully.

Hmmm. 

The things you think of after the fact, eh.

Monday, January 28, 2019

When School Holidays Are Over



After a long, enjoyable break, work at school begins tomorrow and the kids will arrive en masse, the following day.

I’m sure Scotto will be relieved to see the back of me. I’ve noticed him striding around the house with an extra jaunty spring in his step. He’s smiling more broadly and it’s almost as if a huge burden of irritation has lifted from his shoulders. It could be false bravado, I suppose. Maybe he'll miss me.

I, however, will miss the freedom.

I’m distressed I will have to revert to wearing a bra every day for a start. Sigh.

All of us teachers went into school last week for an update on our First Aid training.

The ambulance guy brought in about twenty mannequins in body bags which we were required to ‘resuscitate’.

“This is as close as I’m going to get to the real thing,” quipped my mate, Mrs M., as she bent over lasciviously in order to lock lips with the overgrown Ken doll.

As a longstanding hypochondriac, I always feel a bit dizzy and squeamish when ambulance instructors start on their spiel. This gentleman mentioned that when applying cardiac massage, one should aim for the area dead centre on the chest and aligned with the nipples. 

This would pose a snag should I ever require resuscitating as, if I happen to be lying on my back, my nipples will be located somewhere under my armpits and no one will be able to find them.

He also stressed that if the patient tries to push you away when delivering mouth to mouth, you should stop at once. This makes sense to me because, clearly, if the patient is pushing you away then they are conscious and don’t need the ‘kiss of life’. The ambulance man really emphasised this point though and seemed to focus on Mrs M. when he was saying it.

Later, after we’d stacked all the body bags up in the hallway, the ambulance man made us resuscitate some ‘baby’ mannequins. As he stood, patiently explaining all about how defibrillators should NOT be used on babies OR used to charge a flat car battery, there was an almighty bang and clatter in the hallway which made us all jump out of our skins.

“That’ll be my fella getting a bit restless,” remarked Mrs M. wryly.

Every few minutes, the menacing noise in the hallway would start up again. It was creepy. At least it wasn’t the baby mannequins coming alive though. That would have been beyond terrifying. I’d much rather have a zombie male torso eating me alive than a zombie baby. Babies are frightening when they have teeth.

After we finished First Aid, we popped up to our classrooms. 

I wandered into my buddy teacher’s room and noticed, in immediate dismay; the colourful bunting, the psychedelic, inspirational posters, the freshly sewn curtains, scented candles and a general ambiance which brings to mind a room Mary Poppins might have personally decorated.

Seriously, a laminator vomited all over her room.

In comparison, my room has no bunting, there are overflowing boxes everywhere and I can’t find my rubbish bin. It also stinks because someone left a banana skin in a desk which has sat in the closed up room, baking in a Queensland heatwave.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day but like most procrastinating fools, I work well under pressure.

I just hope I don’t work myself into a heart attack.

But if I do… remember, the nipples are under the armpits.



Saturday, January 5, 2019

Keeping the Mystery Alive in a Marriage



On our way back from kayaking today, we drove past the Wallaby Retreat, situated on Bambling Road, Wonglepong. 


Is that a whimsical address or what?

Scotto was driving and we were listening to my playlist on Spotify.

One of my new year’s resolutions was to listen to more music instead of poisoning my mind with mindless podcasts about mindfulness. I've wasted two years listening to drivel.

In order to compile this playlist, I had to look up ideas on Google because I’ve forgotten about music and what my taste is.

“What music do I like?” I typed into the search engine.

It wasn’t very helpful. I knew there was one song I liked. When we were on holiday, I’d heard it blasting out of a hip café in Queenstown, overflowing with tanned, youthfully athletic people.

“Ooooh, I like this song,” I’d squealed at Scotto, swinging my pelvis around in a risqué fashion as we’d walked past the café. “I wonder what that song is?”

“It’s Justin Bieber,” Scotto sighed, grabbing me by the waist in an attempt to terminate my flashy, public swivelling before someone called the Queenstown zoo-keepers.

“How can it be Justin Bieber?” I asked incredulously. “It’s in Spanish!”

“It’s Despacito,” Scotto replied dully, his eyes frantically searching the horizon for a souvenir shop because he was on a mission to buy a cheap, waterproof jacket with ‘I’ve been to New Zealand’ on it.

I felt a thrilling sensation run across my caesarean scar when Scotto said the word, ‘despacito’. It made him sound extremely sensual. I find accents to be a bit erotic, especially Spanish.

‘Despacito’ was obviously the very first song I added to my playlist. 

But that, dear reader, was not the end of it. I got it into my head that it would be a good idea to LEARN all the words and surprise Scotto by suddenly singing the entire song in Spanish, dazzling him with my enigmatic, intangible qualities.

My daughter, Lulu, is a huge fan of Justin Bieber. She was in Japan on holidays with her boyfriend, Jock, so I Facebook messaged her.

‘Have you heard this song by the Biebster? I LOVE IT! You have to listen to it Lulu!’

She replied with a laconic, “It’s about two years old, mother.”

Anyway, I spent an entire secretive afternoon playing the song on repeat with the printed-out lyrics in front of me. As soon as I’d master one line, I’d move on to another. But by the time I’d memorised the second line, I’d forgotten the first.

Clearly, I am too old to be learning Despacito.

When it came up on the playlist in the car as we were driving along today, I did my best to sing along, just in case anything had sunk in. All I could manage was to sing out ‘CITO’ at the end of every line because every word at the end of a line does actually finish with the syllable, ‘CITO’. So that was something.

I don’t think Scotto noticed anything intangible about me though.