It might be the two week break or perhaps it is the days lengthening beyond the winter solstice as the planet tilts towards the home star but something like optimism quickens the blood and gives bounce to the step. (This last, of course, could be the new orthotics.)

And it is plain, too, that a change has been wrought in our charges in the interim. Indeed, not since little sis secreted a cocoon of the gorgeous emperor gum caterpillar in a shoebox lined with cotton wool only to have it later emerge a thing of monstrous imagination coming at her with wings like two hands ready to strangle, has change been so surprising.

Kids arrive first day back with new bodies that fit as awkwardly as the oversized uniforms their mothers first bought at Yr 7 in anticipation of ‘growing into’ same by Yr 10. Uniforms that are now filled to bursting. Term 2 Lilliputians eyeball you at the beginning of Term 3 and speak in cracked tones resonant enough to frighten bullfrogs. As for the girls, their new forms make explicit the function of biology.

Emperor gum caterpillars turn to moths and “spitfires” become butterflies. It is a seachange rich and strange and oddly brings a lump to the throat that you are not only privy to the transformation but are also privileged in some small way to be able to chisel away at the marble and release the prisoners from their shapeless block. Like the poet’s blast of intuition, these are fleeting images of some infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing. Images to be revived on those days when events seem to conspire against you. Or that difficult Year 9 class at least. So that the next time Tarquin or Vulnavia “creates” you are able to remember that here is a human being struggling to give form to the world and their places in it.

“Mr Diogenes? Mr Diogenes?”

“Hmm? I’m sorry. I was a million miles away.”

“We thought you were having, you know, an episode. You looked sort of –”

“Wistful. The word you are looking for is wistful.”