And an eerie calm did descend upon Lowbottom as teachers, wont to entering the classroom like heretics into the presence of Torquemada, discover the deafening sounds of silence.

What is going on here? It is very simple: the children have sniffed the wind and know their hour of reckoning is at hand. Yes, it is report writing time again. While the swots assume a mantle of smugness which has you sorely tempted to slip a malodorous Unsatisfactory, like a gift-wrapped dog turd, in amongst all those sweetly scented Excellents, the rest are seriously rattled.

Work that is weeks overdue is submitted with smiley faces and rococo decoration that has benefited from the full set of Derwents. There are even little cadeaux – Lindt balls and suchlike.

Suddenly children give you precedence at doors and entranceways which makes a change from being spewed forth like detritus in the churning onrush of pubescent humanity. How thoughtful one’s charges look as they ponder an answer to a question before thrusting a hand into the air like the first crocus of spring.

Enjoy it while it lasts, Diogenes. Milk it if you will but do not delude yourself that Tarquin, for one, and Vulnavia, for two, are finally taking to their bosoms the gift of learning.

Rather, they will have calculated to a nicety when reports are submitted for proofing and the precise moment they may revert to their primal natures. In the breast of the teacher, meanwhile, a war is waged between the desire for unflinching truth and the necessity for diplomacy.

As much as you might entertain the thought of lethal revenge, in the end you settle for deadly euphemism. Tarquin has exhibited ‘some sophistication in oral presentations’ (his rap response to the proposition ‘To Kill A Mockingbird holds a mirror to society’ was an exemplar of the form) while Vulnavia has shown ‘an understanding for the conventions of drama’ (she knows now that it is Hamlet, not Omelet).

And so it goes until what is produced is a document of perfect dissembling.

With the reports going out on time, the Department is satisfied that the sacred flame of education has been tended, administration is happy that the Department is happy, parents are relieved that the incipient signs of sociopathology in their children appear to have diminished while the sociopaths themselves are ecstatic. For they know, the little beasts, that they have won.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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