Wednesday 7 October 2009

broad beans are sleeping in their blankety bed.....

At Primary School this morning, instead of reading with the kids, their teacher apologetically took me through to the main event of the day: the harvest festival service.

I haven't been to a Harvest Festival service since I was at school, and I was pleased to see that the format remains much the same: all the kids sat on the floor in the main hall, with a couple of tables at the front laden with tins of food (including, I was amused to note, a tin of mushy peas....) as well as some cabbages and the odd pineapple. The service itself was run by a nice lady vicar (who is actually the mother of one of the kids I read with last year) and was - as far as these things go - pretty good. She'd brought in a bag of apples from a tree in her garden and was getting everyone involved by asking the assembled kids lots of questions: how many different varieties of apples are there? (the initial guess was 4, the answer was something like 1,500), what is the study of apples called: apology, theology or pomology? How much air is in an apple? (25% apparently). There was then a spot of apple bobbing on the stage, with every participant being rewarded with an apple. Finally, a couple of volunteers came up onto the stage and were each given a slice of apple. Asked if they liked the apple, both willingly agreed. The vicar then turned the apple around to show that the other side of the apple had a wormhole. Rather than running away screaming (which the teacher sat next to me had whispered she was worried about,especially as one of the kids chosen was apparently autistic), both kids were fascinated and wanted to know if the worm was still in there.... The vicar's point, she went on to explain, was that many of the apples had blemishes, bruises and wormholes, but that they were still fundamentally good. Can you see where she's going? That's right, apples are a lot like people, aren't they? Some have bruises and seem bad, but that everyone is basically good. Naturally, religion came into it, but actually it was done in quite an inclusive way, stressing what she believed as a christian, but not necessarily assuming that everyone in the room shared her faith. I thought it was nicely done, actually.

That said, my favourite bit of the whole service was the song that the kids all sang (and acted out in sign language):

Cauliflowers fluffy and cabbages green,
Strawberries sweeter than any I've seen
Beetroot purple and onions white,
All grow steadily day and night

The apples are ripe, the plums are red,
Broad beans are sleeping in a blankety bed

Blackberries juicy and rhubarb sour,
Marrows that are fattening hour by hour.
Gooseberries hairy and lettuces fat
Radishes round and runner beans flat

The apples are ripe, the plums are red,
Broad beans are sleeping in a blankety bed

Orangey carrots and turnips cream,
Reddening tomatoes that used to be green,
Brown potatoes in little heaps,
Down in the darkness where the celery sleeps

The apples are ripe, the plums are red,
Broad beans are sleeping in a blankety bed

They'd been practicing all week, I was told, and they sounded great. How can you not be charmed by a room full of kids all singing to you about some beans in their blankety bed?

On the way out, my class's teacher told me how she thought it was really good for her class to have a man come in to read to them every week, as there are only two male teachers in the whole school. If they don't have one of those guys as their class teacher, then a class might well spend the whole year surrounded entirely by women. Ah, I thought, that explains why most of them call me "miss" then.....

Best hour of the working week, without a shadow of a doubt. As usual. A new earworm, too.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my god Cauliflower's fluffy haunts my dreams!!!

    It sounds like a lovely service, fingers crossed the one at one of my school's will be as successful next week.

    It would be fab if more men would go into primary teaching or offer their time like you do, all of the primary schools I have worked in have had a serious lack male influence and it also does dilute what can often be a bitchy atmosphere.

    N xxx