I had a day off yesterday. At about 11am my friend (with tits) who was suffering an epic hangover popped by following last night’s drinks in the bar in Wandsworth. I made a sofa bed up which she flopped in after a small sick-up in the bathroom. After a few minutes of tlc I made her some spaghetti hoops on toast which served in some way to initiate basic recovery. Just before I was due to go to read to the kids she dozed off. I left her asleep on my sofa, grabbed my lid and left for school.

I arrived at my mate’s school at one pm, as arranged. I parked up the motorcycle under the scrutiny of 150 little people who stopped what they were doing and turned to face me. It was like the end scene from The Village of the Damned. Feeling slightly nervous I signed the visitors book and was directed to the staff room. I met some of the teachers and my mate took me to his classroom with a cup of tea. I was given some basic advice on how to conduct myself with regard to questions from the kids, how to inject some educational value into the reading with reference to words they might not get and to ensure they were thinking about possible plot options for the sake of retaining their attention.

After lunch the kids filed in, as expected, gawping at the new boy in the class who sat nervously chatting to the teacher clutching his 2-page story. The kids were between 8 and 9 and all manner of colour and shapes, the last time I’d seen so many kids of that age in one go I was one of them so I was rather surprised when it all felt oddly familiar. My mate slipped into his mode as a pro allowing his charges some degree of free expression as they recovered from their exuberant lunch break, but making it known that he was the gov’nor. (For those of you who know whom I’m talking about you should be dead proud of him).

After I was introduced to them my mate set them some tasks to be completed following my story. The classroom was arranged so they could sit in front of me, which they did, inches away from my face and I began my tale (which you can find on this website in March’s archive, I think, It’s called ‘Bill’s Midnight Feast’). It went down remarkably well; they seemed engaged, excited, even, and laughed at the poo and fart jokes accordingly. At one point they were required to pull the face of Bill needing to take a trog following the spontaneous expression pulled by a little girl at the front, they all heroically complied. I was rather taken with them actually and whilst wondering why on earth I wasn’t a teacher was given some background information on some of their home lives and remembered why. I couldn’t take the strain emotionally, they’re all so vulnerable and the thought of them being neglected or even physically harmed is too much to contemplate. I also acknowledged how lucky I was growing up. It was sobering stuff that I’m still digesting as I write this.

Following the story the kids were given sheets of paper with some simple questions about what they’d just been read. They were also asked to design a book cover for the story, which will be judged in the pub, probably. I suggested that a bar of chocolate would be an appropriate prize, the reaction from the kids was akin to informing Albert Steptoe he’d just won the Pools. Just before I left I saw some of the designs they’d come up with, seeing how their imaginations had responded to my tale indeed, just seeing my name in all manner of childish fonts was inspiring. So much so I’m going to try and write some more children’s stories…

After an hour and a half or so it was time to go, I said goodbye to the children who after some coercion from my mate noisily thanked me. A little mixed race girl escorted me out of the building, she was shy, polite and, as I’d discovered, troubled. Her mother was a drug addict and she’d regularly miss meals at home (she’d not had breakfast this morning) and was required to give up her bedroom when one of mummy’s numerous junkie friends crashed over. That’s why I couldn’t do the job my mate does, but for the sake of at least one part of infant community, you should be glad he doesn’t feel the same.

Early in the evening my friend (with tits) came over and crashed out in front of the TV whilst I popped to a pub to meet my schoolteacher mate. He’d brought all the kids’ post-story work in order for us to judge the competition winner. As it turned out the little girl that had escorted me out the school was the winner, but we had a fine time checking the drawings reading the reviews that ranged from the frankly bizarre to surprisingly adept. Oddly the basic plot for Bill’s next ‘adventure’ arrived on my walk to the pub yesterday evening.

After a few pints I bid my mate a fond farewell and slid off home. It was nice having my friend (w.t.) there when I arrived back, I made some supper (sausage, beans and mash, which seemed appropriate) and we squandered the rest of the evening in a most pleasant manner, chatting, smoking and in my case, the odd glass of Claret.

This morning, my friend (wt) gave me a lift to work as I have a fucking work-related function that requires me to wear a fucking whistle and I didn’t fancy public transport. I’m sat here looking as if I’ve just been released from Wandsworth nick and, as I type this, its not only Bill who needs a poo.

This one is for Joey, I saw this performed by this pop group on the day he died…

Turn it up

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