Section 123 desperately wants to teach RE
When Dr Gumtree returned with the last candidate his generally polished and smiling countenance seemed somewhat dulled and his eyes frosted over. The new set of guinea pigs were already caged in the classroom and briefed to perform as students. The chaplain had busied them with tales from the North whilst Vernon had been observing the previous candidate. What a great alternative to a bedroom farce, he had mused as the two men approached. All it takes are interconnecting doors and deft timing.
“Hi there” said the candidate warmly. He was a small robustly built catholic priest, an exile from the peat bogs of Ireland, who might have made an alternative living in sitcoms Vernon thought – as a catholic priest. He was an unlikely cross between Father Ted and a grizzled Paul Newman. Father Newman. This promised to be fun.
It wasn’t. It broke its promise.
The lesson started badly and unravelled. A ‘Who wants to be a nuclear millionaire?’ quiz swiftly failed to engage the students. Vernon gulped a mouthful of air in his attempts to stifle a groan and proceeded to cough uncontrollably into his beard. A shallow but meandering lesson on events from the Second World War through to the Cold-War quickly identified this candidate as a junior school chaplain with a desire to teach; history.
A number of times in the lesson Vernon failed to avoid the gaze of Flora. Her expression was almost as hard to read as the worksheet candidate three was holding aloft. There was something in her eyes however that made Vernon want to dissolve with laughter. He daren’t look sideways at the director of studies, slumped disconsolately in his chair, a look of disbelief tempered with despair. He knew he’d explode leaving a hole of megaton proportions in the floor.
“And these weapons. These weapons. Well, these weapons I won’t tell you how powerful they are. Or how hot.”
‘Oh go on’, Vernon wanted to interject, ‘Go on tell us one fact at least’.
“And hot. They’re hot. I won’t tell you how hot they are? They’re very hot. Hotter than the sun.” Vernon began to feel now that Father Newman’s initial disinterest in facts was preferable.
“Does anybody know why America dropped two bombs?”
The lesson was ninety nine percent parenthetical and one percent ethical. Vernon tuned out and wondered whether perhaps another five years in the Park was a price worth paying to avoid being an interviewer again. No, he told himself. Nuke-Leah-Milly-on-air. He had to escape from the calaboose.
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