Another brick in the wall

| March 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Bruce Pinnock

My brain is rather good at trying to de-stress me by not piling up its cells with memory information like, “Important meeting with parent at, er, eleventeen o’clock? Her name is Mrs… um. Her son, ah, er, is struggling.”

No, those things are beneath it bothering to remember. But what it does do well is download into my consciousness in vivid technicolour, hi def, with sound AND subtitles, any one of the multiple embarrassing moments I have experienced. It does this mostly when it can catch me alone. Its absolute favourite, however, is entitled ‘Bruce’s First Interview for a Teaching Post’. It sets me up by reminding me of how, at first, I was on top of my game. I impressed every governing body member in the room, shaking each hand and using each one’s name, before remarking on the beauty of the daffodils in a vase on the interview table. There were six people present, and they resembled sculptured Roman patricians in their refusal to do anything except exude marble disdain and disapproval.

Rattled but undeterred, I accepted a cup of tea and negotiated it to my place at the table without spilling a drop OR knocking over the daffodils. Before carefully bending forward to move my chair in, I looked down just in time to see the pointy end of my tie disappear into my teacup.

It went into the near-side like a dolphin with hardly a splash, before looping under and up to gracefully emerge on the far side, treading water, as it looked expectantly for applause from the Chairman opposite. The silence of a disdainful audience assumed Arctic frozen waste proportions.

Deserted and desperate, I cast around for options. Should I casually reach down, lift up the tie before nonchalantly wringing out the tea into the cup? Or dunk it twice, and then cheerfully suck the end? Or, dramatically, rip it from my neck and in one sweeping motion, cast the offending thing away? Or adopt a cavalier pose and fling the wet end over my shoulder, leaving a spray of milky brown tea down the wall behind?

My brain made no call, so I did the only thing possible. I went into denial. It never happened! I sat down, leaning back. The tie, now turned up Dilbertstyle and growing more confident by the second, made gentle ‘ploosh’ noises as it was drawn back towards its rightful place down my shirt front. It dropped from rim to saucer, to table edge, to my lap. Everyone watched it.

I committed to denial. And I might have carried it off had I not then registered another sensation. Milky tea osmosed in a steady trickle down from the tie into my nether regions. I had some difficulty answering the questions posed. Rattling off about discipline (spare the rod and spoil the child was in vogue) is not easy when your brain is focusing you on the growing wet patch surrounding your privates and you are agonising about how to shake hands as you leave, bearing in mind both hands would be needed to cover your crotch, fig-leaf style.

My brain’s last image left to me to squirm over (when, as the poet would have it, I am lonely as a cloud) was not the daffodils on the table, but a picture of 12 eyes lowering to crotch level and then twitching away in alarm and disbelief. For all I know, my turnedup tie winked. Of course, I was offered the post. It was the time of severe teacher shortages. I was the only applicant.

Category: Autumn 2012

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