For an event that most nearly resembles an old style tennis club dinner dance (the Olds drinking too much, throwing themselves about the dance floor in cybernetic approximation of youthful rhythm and in the beery embrace of people with whom they had latterly shared the en-tous-cas coming as close as they ever would to breaking God’s seventh injunction) the annual staff function inspires an enthusiasm as worrying as it is mystifying.
It seems that the prospect of a free nosh-up draws chalkies out in much the same way that intestinal worms are persuaded to emerge (please do not ask from where) with a piece of steak and a torch. There are staff members in attendance you are certain you have never seen before. Or it might be their party shmutter which renders them incognito.
Certainly you never imagined there to be such a broad acreage of bosomage on display most particularly in the case of the horse-toothed music teacher whose outfit broadcasts the sartorial message that she’s up for it. Perhaps she will pair off with the normally dowdy Eco teacher whose bag of fruit is so loud we’re all reduced to Auslan.
This, naturally, is a primary function of the staff function — to generate enough gossip and innuendo to last us through to the next one. People will be ribbed mercilessly for months to come with sly references to vomitus (“How’s your mate Herb, Johnno?”) and arch enquiries at the young people’s table in the common room as to whether tonsil hockey should be an Olympic sport.
The truth of the thing is that while the notion of frocking up is impossibly exciting for people whose lives are ruled by the bell, you soon hive off into your clans. But not before some hearty souls emboldened by the booze have crossed the cultural divide in the spirit of the Field of the Cloth of Gold.
Thus the history department’s most ancient member will sidle up to a beefy instructor in physical education and gift him with his sage observations on the art of “catching” in “footer”. Should the jock quote A.E. Housman, say, back at him the cultural exchange will be complete.
But now Love Shack segues into Dancing Queen and too many are dancing like their parents. We emerge into the evening air thinking both better and worse of one another. Floating down from the function room fast emptying comes the sound of Lulu. Someone has thought to finish off with To Sir, With Love. Oh God.