Friday, 3 April 2009

Sweet and sour

"It is simply not fair to expect 115 children to sit quietly and patiently during assembly when 5 other children apparently can't be bothered," says Sasha.

"It is simply not fair to expect twelve members of staff to sit quietly and patiently during assembly while one other member of staff is allowed to monopolise the whole bloody thing," I hiss to the deputy head.

It's 25 minutes into the penultimate assembly of term and Sasha, the great orator, is in full flow. The bell for playtime tolled long ago, but not for us, apparently.

As, once again, she takes us through notable incidents from her childhood, favourite holidays and friendships, it's dawned on me that in her hands, assembly storytime is simply a form of budget therapy. Where else, after all, can you ramble on as long as you want, secure in the knowledge that your audience - like a therapist - is compelled to listen to you utter the first rubbish that comes into your head but - unlike a therapist - without the power to evict you when your time is up?

All we need now is to train the children up in synchronised supportive head-nodding gestures, install a comfy couch next to the piano and hang a note on the hall door saying, 'The doctor is IN' and Sasha's monologues can gain the medical legitimacy her subconscious has probably been crying out for for years.

'So now let's all stand and sing our special Easter song,' says Sasha, who has reached the denouement of her story and compelled the children to search for a moral. My choice: 'Persuade your parents to emigrate to a country where compulsory education starts at 8,' isn't, apparently, an option.

Our Easter-themed song is an unfortunate choice. Unfortunate, that is, because the title, frequently repeated in the many, many verses, is 'Chocolate Dreams.'

It wasn't a problem until Francis looked over my shoulder as I was typing out the words and, unasked, offered several non-infant school-friendly definitions of what exactly these might be

As the children reach the second chorus, stretching the word 'Dreams' over several long, long bars, I catch the deputy head's eye. Obviously she's been talking to Francis or, more likely, subscribes to 'Doubles Entendres weekly,' because I see reflected in her face what I know is already in mine - barely repressed hysteria.

There's nothing for it. I play a few crashing chords, then stop.

'What is it?' says Sasha.

'Er.....I thought we should do some sort of hymn,' I venture. 'As a balance.'

'Very well,' she says, with unwonted benevolence - that last therapy session must have exorcised a fair few inner demons - 'If you want.'

Blindly, I pick out the first hymn I can find. It's 'All things bright and beautiful.'

We're doing fine until we get to the line about the purple-headed mountain. There's what can only be described as a suppressed giggle from the direction of the deputy head but somehow, we reach the end.

'I would stay for longer,' says Sasha, 'but I've got some visitors to see.' Casting one suspicious look round the hall, she leaves.

You can almost hear the thwack of a thousand intensely visualised arrows thud into her departing back.

'Never play that song again,' says the deputy head to me, out of the corner of her mouth, as she leads a class of small children out to play.

And, on reflection, I don't think I ever will.


Mum Gone Mad said...

The headmaster at my primary school used to hold sway over assemblies that lasted at least three hours! Or so it seemed, even the teachers used to fall asleep :)

Iota said...

Did you get past "the ripe fruits in the garden" ok?

Iota said...

I couldn't remember the words to All Things, so I typed the first line into Google. The first hit was this

which I think you should look at, just because you'll so enjoy the warbling Hammond organ in the background. (I don't know what a Hammond organ is, I'm guessing wildly here.)

Cath said...

I don't think I will ever hear that song in the same way again. Those assemblies have a lot to answer for!

Omega Mum said...

Mum gone mad: Three hours!! No!!! And there I was, thinking it couldn't get worse.

Iota: Just, but only by listening very intently to the chords, and nothing else.

Iota: Funnily enough, I'm seeing the doctor about my warbling organ problems on Monday. Thanks for reminding me......Must stop the puns. I gave them up for Lent.

Cath: I'd give 'Songs of Praise' a miss for a while. Just a tip. And especially if you've got the vicar round for a nice cup of tea at the time.

beta mum said...

Surely the reason teachers become teachers is so they can get a bunch of people to listen to them without interrupting.
Well it's either teacher or theatre director.

Katherine said...

Fab, what a way to liven up an assembly. I remember my old boss giving a particularly profound and, strangely (for her)spiritual assembly; our pianist was practically asleep at the piano...when requested to play something to equal the profound nature of said assembly, she woke up with a start and belted out "Any old iron!" Oh, it's these moment that make assembly bearable.
I’m a real spring chicken and I’m yellow and small,
My feathers are fluffy and they’re keeping me warm.
My legs are not long, so I’m not very tall,
But I’m a real spring chicken and I’m having a ball,
I’m a chicken, I’m a chicken and I’m having a ball.
Arrgghhhhh relax...all over now!