A global playground

Tuesday 28th February 2012

LOTS going on: Occupy evicted from St Paul’s; new tabloid launched by evil Moloch; appalling bloodshed in Syria; Lansley possibly facing deserved comeuppance; Spurs wobbling. Good job we’ve got an extra day this month, to help us catch up on everything.

I walked from the bus station, arrived early, was told to help myself to coffee. Nobody expected me to wear one of those silly identity necklaces. The core curriculum of the staff-room was banter.

Years 3 and 4 assembled in the hall, some making small gestures of welcome: smiles, little waves, thumbs up in response to mine; not giggly or over-excitable, just friendly, human, eye-to-eye stuff.

“Hello. I’m Marcus. Who likes animals?”

All jump to their feet to act out the antics of the Mohund – top half moose; the little legs of a sausage-dog – as it bursts balloons, eats jelly spoons, and mischievously disrupts a children’s birthday party.

They get it immediately. Nobody sulks or shows off.

“Forty-three different home languages,” a teacher explains, as I go round the groups, checking pronunciations of names. Perhaps creating hybrid animals like the Elegaroo and the Rhinoaffe comes easy to girls from Uganda and Afghanistan working alongside a Polish lad.

“Marcus! Come and sit with us!”

Yummy meat pie, potatoes and baked beans, accompanied by chatterbox humour, broad grins, offers to get me water and take my empty plate to the hatch.

“Do you want to play football with us?”

It’s years since I’ve sent a deft pass across a playground. Doesn’t quite come off today, but they cheer my headed (own) goal. The boy with the cultured left foot is, I discover later, a girl.

Every child takes part in the showcase of poems and stories. I watch and listen, proud to be in their midst, wishing all the world’s arrogant politicians and ruthless rulers were here to witness this happy and harmonious gathering.

“Bye, Marcus.”

I linger in the corridor: some wave; others high-five; a couple hug my tummy.

You can learn a lot, by going to school.




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