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Saturday, 17 November 2012

Guilty Conscience

I don't know how it is in your country; he says, in a blatant attempt to have an excuse to mention his mahoosive* audience in the US, Germany, and the Ukraine; but in the UK, when you near the end of Primary School (age 11), you are taken on what is called an induction visit to the school you will be attending for next, and final, five years of compulsory education.

Or at least, that's what happened when I was a lad. It's probably all changed now, most things have. Anyway, this is the tale of what happened when I went on my induction trip. Enjoy. Or at least do your best to fake a fair approximation of enjoyment. For me, yeah?

It had been decided, via whatever arcane sorcery is used to decide these things, that the school I would attend would be a little place called Parkside Comprehensive School. Now Parkside was a little bit unique (I KNOW THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE DON'T SHOUT AT ME) as Comprehensive schools go, in that it was split over two separate locations; not a few streets away or even on opposite sides of town, but in two separate towns.

The first two years would attend classes in one town and then years 3-5, or 9-11 as we were constantly told we must refer to them; this being just about the time that that whole new numbering system was being implemented; would attend classes in the larger complex in the other town.

Now you would think that since the point of an induction visit is to get you acquainted with the world you're about to enter, we would visit the complex that took first years. However, the teachers were boxing a bit clever, and in what I'm sure was just an attempt to save on bus fuel it was decided that all of the local Primary schools would take their pupils to whichever complex was nearest. Which meant my class would go to the larger complex. Which meant I shat my pants.

Now, the idea of going somewhere I'd never been, to meet people I'd never met, who would essentially be controlling my life for the next 5 years, would have been anxiety inducing enough to have me waking up in the night in a cold sweat for weeks in advance; which meant I really didn't need anything else to worry about on top. I had it though, in the shape of a little thing called 'oh shit, what if I give the game away paranoia.

You see, the school we were about to visit was this school, and the events in question were still very much fresh in my mind. The whole thing was doing my anxiety no good at all.

The big day arrived and we all trooped from one school to the other; single file, teacher at either end of the train, hold hands to cross the road, stop sniggering back there boy; and when we arrived we were met by one of the most intimidating figures I've ever known. He was the Head, whom I shall call Mr J, and I can't tell you why we all felt such instant fear when we met him. He was tall, dressed really smartly, had a head of silver hair, and was incredibly well spoken, so perhaps we thought he was a Bond villain, but I don't recall him doing anything particularly nasty or strict. In fact, I don't recall much of anything about him, because he was always a big fan of delegation, leaving his Department heads and heads of year to do all that awful 'dealing with kids' malarkey.

We were split up into groups and told that each group would only be touring a fraction of the school. This boosted my spirits somewhat; what were the chances that I would be in the group that...oh, home economics you say? And that', right. So the kitchens then? Brilliant.
They've knocked down and rebuilt huge swathes! Didn't recognise the place. That's the spot though.
My arse has never been clenched so tight in all my days. We went through the doors and my eyes went straight to the spot where we'd taken the microwave (it had been replaced) before swiveling to the window we'd come in through (it had been repaired) and then, in a fit of panic, to the teacher doing the tour to make sure he wasn't looking at me (he wasn't).

You see, in my head, this was all too much of a coincidence. The fact that we had come to this school rather than the one we'd actually be attending, the fact that I just happened to be on the group that came to this particular section of the school; I was convinced it was some weird, elaborate sting operation to out me as the great microwave thief of Olde Willington Towne. Nonsense, obviously, but the mind will play tricks.

We spent half a day in those bloody kitchens, baking cupcakes. Now I liked cupcakes as much as the next pre-pubescent boy but I couldn't quite get into the spirit of the exercise. Can't think why.

And that's the tale of what happened to me when I went on an induction visit to a school I wasn't even due to start at for another two years. I hope it wasn't too boring. And if it was, keep it to yourself, yeah? There's no need to hurt anyone's feelings. Tata for now.

*Given that non-English speaking readers are probably relying on google translate or similar, I should probably tone down the made up words, eh? Although when you think about it, aren't all words 'made up'? If they weren't, we'd all be pointing at trees and saying Ug, am I right?

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