There are three words which have regularly instilled fear into me.
“It’s about Joel.” Sometimes the Keswick School nurse.
“It’s about Joel.” Occasionally his head of year.
“It’s about Joel.” Usually Ian or another family member.
There’s three other little words which also send a shiver down my spine. World Book Day. Like Christmas, it happens every year. Like Christmas, I’m always unprepared.
Except this year, there was no need for panic. I’m done with it. Since all three rugrats are now firmly ensconced in secondary school, it is no longer the pain in the arse that troubled me every March. I’m free!! No need…oh shit, I’m still a teacher! Ten past nine the evening before. What the feck am I going to wear?!
As someone who loves the written word, even in French, this should be one of my favourite days of the year. However, as far as I’m concerned, it has less and less to do with books each year.
Doing the register using the children’s character names instead of their real ones, I get more cynical the further down the list I go.
“Good morning Luigi! Which book are you from again?”
“Mario and Luigi at the London 2012 Olympic Games.”🤦🏻♀️
‘Good morning Darth Vader. Have you fetched a copy of the book in which you appear?”
Child produces DVD of The Force Awakens.🤦🏻♀️
“Good morning Roy of the Rovers.”
‘Eh? Miss, I’m Messi!”🤦🏻♀️
“Does anyone have an actual book with their character in?”
Cue long silence.
“Who are you Miss?”
“D’Artagnan, a famous French literary character by Alexandre Dumas. Captain of the musketeers”
“You know. One for all and all for one…”
“Have you got the book Miss?”
“Errr…no. But hang on, watch this.”
So after a frantic search on Youtube, an episode of Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds starts to play. Eighties animation at its best. Fantastic theme tune. Awful dubbing. I’m in the zone, bopping along to the music, reminiscing in my childhood, excited to see how Dogtanian is going to foil Richelieu yet again.
I turn around to see children staring at me incredulously. They’re not impressed.
“So you’re from a movie too, Miss?”🤦🏻♀️
World Book Day can also be problematic if you’re a part time teacher (as I have been for the majority of my career – those three kids of mine have come in handy at times!), especially one who only worked afternoons. Whilst schools all over the country were revelling in fantastic costumes and the hysteria of a change in routine was setting in to every classroom across the land, I was still at home, watching This Morning with a cup of tea in hand and a faint smirk on my face. But then it was my turn. I would arrive. And the novelty of World Book Day had worn off. World Book Day? No, it’s just a Thursday again! Swords had been lost, hats had been discarded, face paint had been wiped away and some sweaty children had abandoned their costumes altogether and looked like they were ready for PE. And the teachers had evidently had enough too, as they were now just dressed as teachers again. World Book Day actually makes kids unteachable and this had been addressed during lunchtime, before the fourth migraine of the week kicked in. So I would arrive, resplendent one year in a home made Oompah Loompah costume, tangoed like an Essex girl, scratching incessantly at my lime Afro and everyone stared at me. Not for the fact that I had turned orange and had acquired a questionable hairstyle, but because I was late to the party. Normality (or as close as possible as you can get to it in a primary school) had resumed and I was threatening the status quo with my appearance. I could wipe off the face paint and remove the wig, but the children could not ignore those painfully tight breeches and knee high socks. But, as far as I was concerned, I’d made the effort and could survive the next two hours, knowing I’d stuck to the ethos of the day and dressed myself as a character by one of the best children’s authors of all time.
“Ooh, ooh, I know who you are, Miss! You’re one of those strange people from that film that’s on every Christmas!” 🤦🏻♀️