Wednesday, 23 March 2005

you know somewhere a ship comes in every day

When I was about 5 years old, I ran away from school. The reason for this uncharacteristic burst of delinquency? I had been messing around in class when I should have been writing, and when asked how much I had written, I miscounted and said I had done seven lines, when in fact I had only written five rather scruffy ones. My punishment was that I had to remain in the classroom, on my own, whilst the rest of my class went off to watch the latest episode of "Play School".

This distressed me terribly, as it would anyone. Play School was the must-see television of the time. No self-respecting five year-old could afford to miss an single episode - my playground credibility would have been shot down in flames, and I would surely no longer be welcome to play in the wendy house. With these thoughts buzzing around my brain, I decided I didn't have to stand for this, and I got up, walked out of the classroom, out of the school building, through the deserted playground and out the gate into the street. From there I walked/ran the mile or so back home. Sadly there was no one in at the time, so I was forced to sit on the back step and wait for my Mum to come back from the supermarket. It was a lovely afternoon, and I seem to remember that I whiled away the time by playing with the cat, a grumpy three-legged creature called Fern.

As you might imagine, when she returned, my Mum was a little surprised to find me waiting for her. The school had of course been going frantic. This may have been back 1979, and although it was apparently acceptable to leave a five year old alone in a classroom, it was not great if that child was then missing when you got back, and you weren't able to find them (if this happened now, I can only assume that International Rescue would have to be called, and that there would be a public enquiry leading to the closure of the school for gross negligence. Of course, in those days we didn't have paedophiles, there was no crime, and Brittannia ruled the waves, so I was probably okay). I was taken back to school, taken to the headmaster's office and made to apologise to Mr. Shepherd. I was then welcomed back into the bosom of my class, where my friend Oliver told me how they had all helped to look for me, and he had searched the wendy house thoroughly, including in the dressing-up box.

That was more than 25 years ago, and I can still remember the feeling of exhiliration I got as I stepped out of the school gate and set off for home.

Do you reckon I'd feel something similar if I stood up now and walked out of the office and went home?

I reckon that maybe I would.

I'll just finish my lunch first, eh?

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