The Piper 60 (does it never end?)

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The explosion confirmed their deepest fears.

The boys had made it to the prearranged classroom just before the blast.

Graham could see that a change had come upon both of the lads. Something had stolen the last ounce of their youthful optimism. It was the same something that was preying upon them all and, if it was not checked, it would have them.  

“This is where we begin,” said their teacher.

With that, he led them along the corridors whilst the screaming and shouting permeated the walls. When they heard the gun shots, they stopped dead in their tracks.

“I think this is going to get worse before it gets better,” Mr Hunter offered.

“This is nothing to what will come,” added Michael knowingly.

They had devised a plan and were praying for it to work.

The basement had been rigged with petrol bombs and fireworks. There were fuses running everywhere and, as Mr Hunter had said, it would take just one spark to send the place sky high. However long they had been planning this, they had done it well. If it had not been such an act of – and he thought about the word he was about to use – terrorism, yes terrorism, then he would have been amazed at the work they had managed to accomplish. Some planning and organisation. However, what he did feel was revulsion.

“What about the police?”

“Sir, I don’t wish to be rude but the police probably won’t arrive. We think that some of them are in on this. Haven’t you noticed that there is an awful lot of violent crime going on every day without anyone doing anything about it?”

“So, if the police don’t come, it’s just down to us?”

“Us and whoever else is left that’s not on the other side.”

It took a while for this to reach its mark, but when reality, or this thing that was masquerading as reality, set in he became more resolute.

“Well then let’s do it.”

They were moving downstairs when another set of shots rang out. Their looks of concern met briefly and then they were back to their jobs. Mr Hunter used his key to open a store cupboard and then let himself and the boys in. Once inside, he locked the door behind him and turned on the light. He moved to the back of the space and started to pull at a loose parquet tile. It moved and he was able to lift it out of its place. Then he grabbed hold of a short piece of rope that lifted a two-by-two foot section out revealing a ladder that reached down into the bowels of the building.

“Another throwback to the War,” he smiled and started to climb down. “This will lead us to the basement. There is another storeroom, the one that you slept in I think. If we can get in there, we might be able to get them out.”

“We have to get them all out sir. We can’t leave any to those bastards,” the voice of Chris snarled.

The older man looked at him briefly.

This is what it does to us, he thought, this is what we become.

 

 

 

Laura jerked forward in her seat as she heard the first explosion.

A plume of smoke rose quickly into the indifferent morning air as she watched from the car.

“What the hell was that?” she asked turning to Nick.

“That’s how it always starts; with a bang. They’re out to make a statement. They want to show their followers their vision and the means by which to achieve it. The explosion is pure Hollywood. It’s for effect, but worse will follow.”

As they waited in the car deciding on their next move, they heard the first rapport of gunfire. After the next short burst, they were out of the car and moving quickly towards the gates. Around them, moved the occasional curtain with a face standing far back. It struck them that most people just did not seem to be home.

“Oi, you stop.”

It was a young voice calling from behind them.

Laura spun round and saw that the voice belonged to a child no older than thirteen. He was out of school uniform and had one of those hoods pulled up so that no one could see the whole of his face properly. With a mixture of fascination and horror, Laura noticed a gun being swung in front of the boy.

“I heard the explosion,” she started, “and I wanted to get to see my boys. They go to that school.”

“What’s their names?” the boy asked.

“Andrews. Michael and Christopher Andrews.”

At this, the boy let out an elongated phew of exclamation.

“Andrews. So you’re their mother? That is a bit of luck. Mr Flowers will be pleased with what I’ve got him. Now, you can meet the boys.”

He pointed the gun in the direction he wanted her to follow.

Unfortunately, he had not noticed Nick walking quietly around his blindside. He had been aware of something, but it had been vague. Nothing to worry about was the thought that passed through his mind as a single blow landed on a pressure point at the base of his neck. All he felt was a thud and then a tingling sensation as his body was guided to the ground.

Nick had already taken the gun and was checking it. He was moving an expert eye over its workings and didn’t notice the way Laura was looking at him.

“What’s the matter?”

“It’s you,” she said. “How did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“That boy never even saw you. I saw you but he never once looked towards where you were standing. How did you do that?”

“It’s them. Many of them can’t see me. I think that they may not really want to see me. Denial or something. I am not supposed to be. In the hospital, I think they wanted to turn me into what they are, but it didn’t work. The more they experimented, the more incomprehensible I became to them. It’s as if I’m an aberration, something that defies their logic. They can’t understand how and why I am so they don’t admit my existence. Anyway, we can use it against them. Come on now and take this.”

He handed her the gun.

“Do you think you can use it if you need to?”

“I’ll try.”

But then she looked at the child on the ground and wondered if she could really ever use such a weapon on one so young.

 

The Piper 57

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Somewhere else in that ominous corridor between dark and dawn, another car kicked into life.

Joel Podrall had made it back to his home and had stolen the keys that belonged to his mother’s new boyfriend. They had been sleeping, probably drunk when he had entered and he smiled as he left. He knew what awaited them and did not care to warn the pair.

The car was a Ford that had been messed about a little. Concealed beneath the fading paintwork of the bonnet was an engine that was never really supposed to be there. It was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The meaty roar that greeted his foot, as he tapped the accelerator, brought an overdue smile back to his face. He knew that he would be out of the city in no time and hoped that he would be able to reach some sort of safety not too long after that. One thing that he did know was that when Flowers decided to come for him, he would have to be as far away as he could. Flowers would show no mercy.

He had told nobody, not even Flowers, of the stash that he had managed to build up. His pockets bulged with notes gained through drug transactions, theft and deception. Flowers would not have understood. He no longer understood Flowers.

With his limited reasoning, Joel tried to work out whether he had ever liked the other boy, whether anything that they shared could be called friendship. He realised that he was thinking too much and that was never a good sign. Nevertheless, the boy that he had come to know as his gang’s leader was not the same one who now walked the world: he was different, so very, very different.

Podrall pushed in the clutch and eased the gear lever. The handbrake was off and he was away manoeuvring carefully through the night. Tomorrow was the big day and it was a shame that he would miss it. There were some kids and teachers at that school whom he really wouldn’t have minded setting fire to, himself.

Hopefully, he would see the ‘tragedy’ on the news or something.

 

 

Liam Flowers sat facing his leather friend.

He had grown to like the smell of his companion and had started seeing beauty in the contours of the creased leather face.

They had been sitting for a long time awaiting The Piper’s return and had both taken the opportunity to study each other in detail. Of course, the Leatherman was dead and could not be relied upon to share the ruminations that the boy had, but Flowers was just satisfied with the overall aesthetics of the matter.

There was, indeed, beauty in death and today would be the day that would light up the world to these new possibilities.

 

 

Half an hour later, two figures found themselves crouching in what should have been a long-unvisited passageway beneath St Agnes.

“You see,” said Mr Hunter pointing at the row of cables, “someone has been messing about with this.”

Michael looked above him and saw the way the cables had been pulled out of their protective cladding. Many were hanging loosely from the ceiling and some appeared to have been partially cut.

“What do you think they are trying to do?”

“Well, it’s not just minor vandalism that’s going on. If I were insane, I would say that somebody is trying to cause a fire or even an explosion.”

The teacher indeed knew his way around. He said that he knew the school better than he knew his own face and Michael doubted him not one little bit.

They had arrived in the basement through a series of passages that had started beneath an old army reporting post dating back to the Second World War. Mr Hunter had said that he thought that it could have been older than that. He said that it was not uncommon for these places to have thousands of yards of hidden passages beneath them that would usually lay undiscovered until some essential construction work needed to be done. As this was on school grounds, a school that was already being marked for closure, that time may not have been far off. Other events would make that academic.

“How did you find them?” Michael asked.

“I did a bit of digging around in books and then for real. I dropped a cup of tea once, when this was still being used as an extra classroom and watched how the liquid just disappeared through the ground. If you’ve seen The Great Escape you’ll understand what I’m talking about.”

Michael had seen the film and had always enjoyed it. His dad had said that it was a classic and had lamented the fact that it was not always shown on Christmas Day. He missed his father enormously and wished that he were here to protect them. Now, however, Mr Hunter was pushing ahead into the basement area. He opened a door and pointed to a barely visible alcove that was acting as a storeroom. Inside were lots of boxes covered in dust.

“That’s probably where your brother was sleeping.”

Again Michael wondered what power had possessed him to do such a thing. If the Piper had succeeded, his brother would have been his. That would have driven a rift between the family bonds (broken the connection) and that would have sealed their fate. They would have perished along with everything else. He was thinking about how close it had come when, from overhead, they heard the unmistakeable sound of footsteps.

Michael looked at the older man and whispered, “Is there anywhere to hide?”

His teacher looked back and replied, “Back the way we came, quickly.”

They moved at speed, yet in near silence, across the basement floor and managed to slip into the partially hidden alcove before the footsteps turned into a real presence. At the back of the alcove was a false wall. The teacher pushed the wall on its left and it swung open. They were inside before anyone noticed. On the other side of the partition two sets of footsteps came to a halt.

“I thought I heard something, did you?”

Michael recognised a voice as one of Podrall’s lads.

“Probably rats. This place will be crawling with them.”

“Yeah, rats. I’ve seen loads of them around lately. The other night about a hundred just came pouring out of the sewers in the middle of the city centre. I was on the bus and I watched ’em racing down the high street like they owned it. It scared the hell out of the shoppers. About ten of ’em, massive they were, broke off and chased this woman with her dog. It was a poodle and they ripped it to shreds. You should have seen the look on her face as they tore into it, she was petrified. Then they ran off as if nothing had happened.”

The one whose voice Michael had recognised listened intently before adding, “Yes, there are lots of stories like that. It’s as if we’re in competition with them. Who is the baddest?”

“Do you think it’s anything to do with Flowers?”

“I think everything’s got something to do with Flowers these days don’t you?”

The other nodded.

“Is it true that Podrall has left?”

“Where did you hear that?”

“Just heard it.”

“That’s just dangerous talk. If I were you I’d stop thinking it right now before somebody else hears. Anyway,” he said looking around, “it might be rats down here but I’m not hanging around to find out. Have we got the stuff that he promised us?”

“I think that it’s upstairs behind the stage. Hope mine’s an automatic. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces.”

With their added confidence, the two shared a smirk before heading back up the stairs.

Michael looked towards his teacher in confirmation.

“Yes, Michael it looks like the worst case scenario. Let’s see what we can do to stop it.”

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Time was running out.

 

 

 

 

 

Read After Burnout Review from Goodreads.

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I was extremely pleased to read this:

 

An Educator Burns Out, Loses The Pieces Of His Sanity, Finds Those Pieces And Uses Them To Recontruct A New Self.

With great humor and raw honesty the author takes us through his disillusionment, his depression and aniexty. His journey through medications and discovery of the “madness” finding in so many people. While trying to sort out his mental/emotional crisis, he is also dealing with a daughter that has issues of her own: a severe eating disorder.
The journey of this one man, this one teacher, to rebuild himself and his family is often raw. It’s truthful and real. You’re never sure how things will turn out, just like life.
A great read! I recommend this book to anyone stuggling with society’s expectations, career burnout or mental health issues.

 

Thanks go to the reviewer.

Thanks, Angie.

The Piper 52

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Just a few feet further and Flowers would have it.

He had taken a rope from the room belonging to the caretaker and was now using it to lower himself into the darkness.

The Piper had come to him in his dreams and had shown him something that would make the job easier. He had taken him along dark tunnels and down into the pit of the earth. Everywhere, water stood. It was black and unliving yet still there was something in there that moved. He knew it to be the souls of children.

They are trapped. They are the innocents who were the payment I never received and they have spent their time fermenting their anger for the ones who betrayed them. If they were to be released, then the world would feel their anger and would struggle to fend off their revenge.

Liam listened as the Piper explained about the plague of rats and remembered a story he had been told in school, long, long before he had come to this. The story was of a town in Germany that had suffered from an invasion of the vermin that ate everything in sight. The townspeople were on the edge of starvation as a result of this curse and they sent out messengers to all the regions around them calling for help. Some of their pleas fell upon deaf ears whilst others were answered. The problem was that, those who had answered them turned out to be fake or merely ineffective.

The rats not only stayed, but they multiplied.

And then came the brightly dressed solution: a rat-catcher who carried a flute.

It amused Flowers to think that he was involved in a real life fairy tale.

He had been given the power to play the pipe and now many were dancing to his tune. The Piper was, at best, a vague essence that only he and a select few could see. He knew that Podrall could not see him yet. He also knew that some of his enemies could see him. Residing in the depths of his conscience was a grain of awareness. This tiny particle of reason grated like a stone in a shoe. No matter how he tried to shake it off, it remained.

He needed an act of absolute evil to rid himself of it once and for all.

Flowers lowered himself into the black pit and landed on firm ground. He pulled the torch he had been carrying from his pocket and switched on the light. He was beneath the basement of the school and was amongst a confusion of cables and pipes. The Piper had led him to this and he knew what he must do.

He moved towards a knot of pipes that were rusted with time. One of these pipes would provide the answer. In his pocket, he had a vial that had been delivered to his door one night. The Piper had explained that if he used it correctly, the match would be lit for his return.

“It is fear that gives one control. If the masses fear you, they will follow. For mankind, fear was the main reason for its rapid development,” the Piper had said. “You do as I say and they will abandon their illusions of security. We will have dominion over all. On this night we will ring the changes and rid ourselves of our enemies.”

Liam knew that all the world was his enemy. He had known that from the start and nothing had convinced him otherwise. He pulled back the insignificant covering protecting the pipe and opened the vial. As the liquid ran out onto the metal, it raised a whisper of smoke. It was as he had thought, a type of acid and it was strong enough to burn through metal.

In the corner, something stirred. He welcomed its approach as it was a harbinger of the things to come. As it shook itself from its restless sleep it made a slow progression towards where something that smelt vaguely human stood. Then it smelt soemthing else. It was the scent of the dark thing that had conjured it.

It was the scent of the Piper.

 

 

Above him, in a forgotten stockroom, lay Chris.

He was waking from a rocky sleep and roused to find himself on a cold concrete floor. His muscles ached with the strain and the cold of the night. The darkness was almost absolute as he struggled to his feet. Again, his muscles pained him deeply. The sensations they were giving off were ones connected with an exersion he could not remember. He recalled events.

The previous day had been a bad one. He could remember his mother waking up and showing the signs that they had dreaded for so long. She had the symptoms of the depression that had shown themselves so frequently in the months after their father’s death. He thought about his father and an image sprang into his mind of him standing on a rock in the face of an angry sea. Thinking with a clarity that could have been cinematic, Chris saw himself next to his father. He was holding him as wave upon black wave crashed against their disappearing sanctuary.

You must not lose faith again Christopher. Your family needs you. The world needs you. You have fallen yet not so far that I could not catch you. That was your chance. You have used it up. Now do not let me down. When you wake, you will have to find a way out and get to your mother and Michael. Peter is someplace else, but he is also working his way back.”

Chris was looking into the face of his father and seeing him for the first time as a person. There was fear in his eyes that was not only for his son’s predicament. Nevertheless, there was resolution that he would not give in to that which would defeat them.

“The Piper lies. He wants you all dead. When he told you that you could have one more day with me, he lied. Those that you thought were your parents were only shadows. Now make it better or it will all end here.”

“But, Dad,” Chris said through tears. “Dad, I love you. I never got to say that before you went. I love you Dad. We need you.”

His father’s hand was running through his hair to soothe him.

“You must go now Chris. They are getting closer.”

And when Chris looked around, the sea was battering against their rock and the black tide held out claw-like hands that would pull them from their safety.

“What about you, Dad? What about you?”

I am some place they cannot reach for the time being. Now take this and give it to your mother. Tell her that I never did stop loving her and that I could not help the harm that I have caused her.”

With that, Chris felt something metallic placed in his palm.

“This is my love to you all.”

And that was when the lights came on.

“It’s Christopher isn’t it?”

Chris recognised the voice but could not see its owner. The lights had temporarily blinded him.

“What on earth are you doing down here?”

“I don’t know,” Chris replied in all honesty.

It took a few seconds for his eyes to accustom themselves to the sharp glare of the artificial light. When they had recovered, Chris saw the somewhat dishevelled figure of Mr Hunter standing in the door.

“What’s happening, Mr Hunter?”

“I don’t know, son. I really don’t know. Let’s get out of here before they come back. There is something in this school that should not be here and I believe it means us all no good.”

“I think I know what it is,” muttered Chris half ashamed. “I think I may have met it.”

“I think that we may all have met it at some stage. For now, we’ll make sure you get home safely.”

The teacher had keys to corridors Chris could not remember and soon they were out into the car park where his old Volkswagen camper van waited. The night sky was alive with muffled explosions, sirens and distant screams. As Mr Hunter started the ignition, he turned to Chris.

“I saw you in my dreams. You were on a rock in the middle of a black and angry sea. There was a man with you. Was that your father?”

“Yes.”

“Then there is something that I cannot explain. You see, your father has been in my dreams for many years now. He has been telling me about this night and he has shown me the place where I would find you.”

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The two looked at each other aware that they were now, and always had been, part of something that was beginning its final act.

 

 

Supply Teachers Are People

 

If there is a choice between the half-wit robots that patrol the corridors of modern secondary education and the worn-out, worn-down, world-weary supply teacher, I would pick the temp every time.

It’s not just me:

 

 

Experiences of a Supply Teacher

Charlie Caroll was a successful 28-year old teacher in a great school, who loved his job. In 2008, he decided to become a supply teacher in different cities in England. His encounters bewildered him so much that he wrote a book about them. After reading ‘On The Edge’, I wrote to Charlie and asked if I could share extracts from his book on this blog. Charlie kindly agreed, so here is the first of two blogposts sharing a supply teacher’s experience of tough schools in England, starting in Nottingham.

 

NOTTINGHAM

Tompkins Technology College. Children were running around, yelling and tussling wherever I looked. ‘Morning, Year 10,’ I hollered over the din. ‘Time to sit down, please.’ Chairs were being flung over, snatches of insults occasionally broke free of the general hubbub, and it appeared that no-one had heard me.

‘Year 10!’ I shouted again, this time louder. ‘Seats, please!’

I looked at my watch; by the time I had everyone seated and looking in my general direction, seven minutes of the lesson had been wasted.

I started to introduce myself. ‘All right,’ I said. ‘My name is Mr Carroll, and I’m here for the next week or so. Today, we’re going to be working on…’-

‘For f*ck’s sake!’ one girl exploded. ‘Give it back, you bitch!’ More yelling, more chairs falling over as they fought over a stolen object. I tried to make them return to their seats, but three minutes passed before they tired of fighting and sat back down. Other pupils ignored me completely and talked amongst themselves. The noise grew. ‘Look,’ I said. ‘We need to …’ ‘No-one’s listening to you,’ one lad told me. I wrote the task on the board: Write a letter to your Headteacher, persuading him to get rid of school uniform.

‘Right, girls,’ I said. ‘What I need you to do is…’ ‘I’m doing it!’ erupted one of them, Tracey. ‘God! Just f*ck off, will you?’

‘I can’t have you talking to me like that,’ I said, calmly. ‘Please go and stand outside.’

She clapped her hands, hoorayed and rushed out of the door. When I checked a moment or two later, she had vanished, taking the opportunity to go for a 20-minute walk around the school.

Suddenly a boy burst into the room. Ignoring me, he reached into his bag and produced a large box of fizzy sweets.

‘Who wants some?’ he shouted. ‘No!’ I protested, but I was ignored by all as they swamped the newcomer.

I had just about got them seated again, when a fight between two 16-year-olds erupted outside my room, and the entire class rushed out to chant and holler. Another five minutes wasted.

Once they were all back inside again, a dark-haired lad suddenly leapt across his table and began stabbing another boy in the back of the hand with a straightened paperclip, drawing blood. Tracey came back, and her return sparked a loud argument among her front-row friends. ‘F*ck off, ya white bitch!’ ‘That’s racist!’

Five minutes before the end of the lesson, the class unanimously decided to pack up and walk out, despite my protestations.

 

As the bell for break-time went, I tried to set up the classroom for the Year 8s and ready myself. The second bell sounded, and they arrived. There followed two hours of noise – of frantic, urgent, unstoppable noise – which echoed about the room with deafening resonance.

Omar had a penchant for sneaking up to the board whenever I had my back turned to draw large and often spurting penises. Zoe had to be moved five or six times after starting loud arguments with anybody she happened to be close to. Raymond made his best friend cry when he graffitied the words ‘Mr Carroll swallows’ on to the cover of his book, held it up for me and the rest of the class to see, and then exclaimed ‘Sir! Look what Dimitri wrote!’ Sharn, after ceaseless taunting from Zoe, unloaded her tormentor’s bag all over the floor, kicked aside her chair, and then stormed out, never to return. And just when I thought it could get no worse, Luke calmly walked over to Habib, and spat on his head.

‘Luke!’ I shouted, my temper close to ripping. ‘Go and stand outside of the room now!’ The boy’s face filled with anger. ‘You can’t send me out,’ he spat. ‘I didn’t do anything! If you send me out, I’ll break your nose.’

‘It’s a very serious thing,’ I began, ‘to threaten a teacher, Luke –‘

‘I don’t care!’ he yelled. ‘I didn’t do anything!’ With that, he ran from the classroom. I followed, but by the time I reached the door he had disappeared. I came back in. A paper aeroplane sailed over and bounced lightly off the top of my head. ‘Oi, sir!’ Terry called out, ‘Chuck it back!’

I spent five days in Nottingham, enduring insults and continuous disobedience, having to make any request at least six times before it was even acknowledged.

I vividly remember a Year 7 lad obnoxiously shouting at his classmate, an orphaned Somali refugee, ‘At least I’ve got a family to go home to! At least I’ve got a family to go home to!’

On entering my lesson, a year 10 girl sang (to the tune of ‘If You’re Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands’):

‘If you think Sir’s a waste,

Clap your hands.

If you think Sir’s a waste,

Slap him round the face

If you think Sir’s a waste,

Clap your hands’.

I stopped her at the door. ‘Tracey,’ I said, ‘there is no way I can let you into this classroom now.’

‘What the f**k are you talking about?’ she hollered, spinning in circles and addressing the gang of youths surrounding her. ‘I ain’t done nothing!’

‘Tracey, I heard full well what you were singing,’ I said. ‘I cannot let you into this classroom after that.’

She shouted back: ‘Are you f**king mad? I wasn’t even singing! What the f**k is wrong with you?’ I tried to start the lesson. But it was difficult. Tracy was outside screaming so loudly that she drowned out my instructions. Abdul threw a chair at Peter. Vicky began playing loud dance music on her phone. Alan stole Tyrone’s left shoe, and ran about the room with it ululating. Charmaine produced a lighter, and tried to set fire to Tyrone’s exposed sock. And, all the while, Tracey stood outside, shouting that I was a twat, a prick, a wanker. Kris, a quiet lad, came up to me and, with a wry smile, said: ‘You know, the Head would probably have come and got her by now if you was a normal teacher. But you’re just a supply teacher.’

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Will advance ominously towards Ashley. ‘What did you just say?’ Will hissed, squaring up to Ashley. Will pushed Ashley hard. Ashley fell back a few steps and then flung a wild swing at Will’s head. It was all Will, the larger of the two, needed. Grabbing Ashley by the jumper, he struck him twice in the face. ‘Stop that!’ I shouted, but Will ignored me. As Ashley careered backwards, he advanced, smashing him in the face with another resounding punch which spun the smaller boy around. Will kicked him hard in the back, sending Ashley flying out over a chair and on to the floor. As he lay there, Will stamped on his stomach.

As Will stood backwards, I stepped into the gap. Heady with adrenalin myself, both arms splayed outwards to prevent him moving any closer to the floored Ashley, I said, ‘Get out!’ He looked at me, and then at Ashley. ‘Get out now!’ I said. Will turned and left. The class, for the first time that day, were completely silent.

Violence in many tough schools is a reality pupils and teachers have to deal with. In one year alone, 740 children were permanently excluded for assaulting teachers; 8,240 were temporarily excluded. In many cases, nothing is done about it.

 

 

All in a day’s work.

In Charge Of An Empty Head

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They think that they have finally done it.

They have managed to make my head a vacant possession. They have reduced me to one of their non-thinking masses.

Their eyes have been following me. No, that is not quite right. My head is so empty now that it does not always remember the way things have been. They walk past my classroom door and peer in. A couple of the more empty-headed have occasionally stopped to walk into my room, as I am in full teaching mode, to talk to some students. There is no excuse me, sir, just a definite appropriation of territory.

The ones who do this are youngish, fat (flattish), dull as ditch-water, and stupid beyond reasonable imagination. If the Gestapo were to start up again, and it probably will, these would be the first on its list of recruits. Their incapacity for empathy aligned to their dullard adherence to whatever rules are in place at the time, would mark them out as ideal candidates. ‘The line of duty’ springs to mind. As a result of this, my resistance has been shaken into action.

I do little things such as trying to have fun in a lesson. Here I am not necessarily talking about a fun lesson for the kids, but one for me. I tend to find that if I am enjoying myself they have a good to better chance of doing so as well. I am not always right on this one.

The more I think about it, the more it appears to me that the whole department is built upon arrangements made after an army of invasion has established itself in occupation.

Above the tubby girls are two moderately aware practitioners who stick to the script. Their teaching goes nowhere without the appropriate PowerPoint. They do that whole cut and paste PowerPoint thing where massive chunks of text are squeezed onto each slide. After that, the person at the front (it used to be a teacher) reads each and every painful line as if delivering the commandments from on high. The kids get to copy off the PowerPoint rather than doing the shockingly old-fashioned thing of copying from the board.

Above these two guards is the leader of the department. Young, driven, smiling to the ones in favour, and to every child who crosses his ‘learning base’ threshold. He could be the manager of a factory or a supermarket. His job is to make the kids feel happy. He does that well. However, when he is not smiling, he is not smiling.

The three leaders of the small department are constantly telling others how good they are at the business of teaching even though the results don’t bear this out. In fact, these three are often telling everybody else how good they are at everything else. It’s a form of blessing that the school has them in the first place.

Oh, and let’s not forget the truly horrible woman who glares and glares at anybody not within her circle of trust. The circle of trust just happens to be those who she deems to be the most important members of the department, the leaders.

So, today I will go in and do my very best to wobble the cart. I am expecting to be marched off the premises by lunchtime and shot in the car park of the local supermarket.

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When they read out my crimes against modern education, it will be from a PowerPoint; and it will be full to bursting. 

When Truth Becomes Fiction

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“Ninety-five percent of people who walk the earth are simply inert. One percent are saints, and one percent are assholes. The other three percent are people who do what they say they can do.” 

The Dead Zone   Stephen King

 

I read this book in my late teens or early twenties. It struck me then as something to think about and now it strikes me as prophetic., a successful businessman and delusional egomaniac, becomes a contender for president and would have convinced the blue-collar workers, rednecks and those left out of the American dream, to put him in the Whitehouse. King, being King, made a ludicrously sounding plot believable and now America, in homage to one of its greatest commercial writers, has made the dream come true. The world is going mad and soon Trump will be conducting the cacophonous calamity that will play out on the world stage.

 

I am scared to death of the lunatic. I am scared of those who see his illiberal-evil and believe it. I am scared that what King’s character dreamt about will actually happen. Give me vampires or zombies. Give me a super plague or virus. Give me anything but Trump (and that is not an order). The inauguration hasn’t taken place just yet but soon it will be history. How much are betting companies’ odds on Trump being trumped before he truly takes office? Will a lone gunman try to JF DT?  Alas, there will be nothing that shakes Trump’s immoveable belief and manifest destiny. Only in books do the villains falter at the last; in the real world they continue apace, get their nasty business done and then fade into a distant memory of a one-time terrible illness.

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And so, it has come to pass that the epitome of ignorant evil has survived his first year; almost. Indeed, his stance had become emboldened by the persistent sycophants and fawners who are now anxiously waiting in the queue to shake the hand of America’s best. It makes me sick, sick to the very core of my being that “the will of the people” can be so wrong. And yet isn’t it that this very will is what our newly promoted populist politicians would have us believe is in the same ball-park as the first commandment that Moses inscribed on his tablet? Thou shalt not ignore the will of the people.

 

As a person, I would gladly ignore the slavishly ignorant will of a people who have entered into the wilderness under the guidance of a snake-oil salesman and shaman. They believe that they speak the truth because they dare to say what others nowadays find repulsive. They like to call a spade a spade, a Jew a Jew, a liberal-minded woman a whore or a dyke and a gay an abomination. The truth is to be found in the core of their excremental souls, the way of seeing past evolution, empowerment and even-mindedness. Empathy left the harbour a long time ago and has now been scuttled in the mid-Atlantic.

It is a central irony that in seeking to combat extremism, Islamic in particular, the most powerful democratic nation on earth should elect an equally barbarous ignoramus who seeks to exercise power in the same manner a lynch mob would dispense Frontier-Justice.

 

And there it is folks, the reason for education. The central motivating factor for me to become educated and to attempt to lead others in that voyage of discovery was to rebalance the sides. I wanted to help put more decent thinkers into the world in order to combat the inevitable rise of the ignorant who often feign their own disappearance in order to spring back again when least expected. It’s like an overused cliche from a cheap horror-flick; the keep coming back.

   

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