Staff talent show.
The Staff Talent show was something that students eagerly anticipated for weeks leading up to Christmas. This lunch time performance was hotly contested affair, which always took place on the Thursday of Charities Week (See Those were the days Part 26).
The winner was chosen by a panel of judges that was not quite of the same caliber as that from X-Factor. Teachers used to dodge the honour of appearing on this judging panel as it always used to end in tears and tantrums from the Staff band in particular if they did not come out on top.
Your brief as a judge was basically to decide if the Staff band had done enough to defeat a less talented, but very determined bunch of reprobate teachers (mainly teaclub members) that locked horns with the band every year. Other groups of staff performed various party pieces, or mimed to tracks of the day from performers such as Rick Astley. Invariably these side acts were poor and often slightly toe curling. Therefore it always boiled down to a straight shoot out – The band versus the “Tea Club Boys”.
The Band was pretty tight and would bash out an Oasis cover or something similar. The Rake 2 for further stories from the band’s exploits.
The lads in opposition knew their limitations, but would use props, bribes, humour and what talent they had to try and win over the audience. One year they built a life size Cadillac out of MDF for their performance of Grease Lightening.
The vision that I still have of one of their best shows was of the four of the reprobates lined up, wearing tutus, leotards and ballet shoes performing a series of demi plies to the soundtrack of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The whole front row of the audience was screaming in shock and blind panic every time the lads bent their knees to lower their torsos gracefully and sweep their arms upwards. This was due to the fact that one of the teachers had burst his tights in a rather crucial area and so every time he stooped down his scrotum squeezed out of the hole for a gentle airing! This was the cause of the screams of terror from the Year 10 girls who were copping an eyeful of this in the front row.
Been thinking about CJ lately. A proper teacher from the Old School. Keep on rockin’ in the backstreet boozer in the sky Big Man!
At some parents evenings you get some kids that bring Mum, Dad, Gran, the dog etc. Yeah, I have had dogs on leads, that were being puppy walked, introduced to me. As if Fido would be that bothered about what I had to say.
Sometimes you had an older brother or sister that rocked up to be the interpreter for the Mums and Dads who do not have a great command of English. On the odd occasion you could kind of tell that the brother/sister was watering down the bad news which you had to give when the folks nodded appreciatively and mumbled “thank you very much” to my comment that “I am afraid to say that Sunil has not done any homework this term.”
A Mum who will remain anonymous used to come and sit down at my desk regularly without making an appointment. I taught or had taught most of her kids over the years. But even if it was a night for a year group of one of her kids that I did not teach, this Mum would always park up with me for 5 minutes.
The reason being was that the rows of desks were set out alphabetically and my spot gave a prime viewing position at which to gaze at CJ (Clive Jarvis) This is precisely what this Mum would do. She had an enormous crush on CJ and would tell me quietly what a wonderful teacher he was and how she would like to repay him for his professionalism!
The weirdest entourage I dealt with concerned two families that had wife swapped. Both families were very amicable and in fact all four parents turned up for the appointment for the kid I taught. So extra chairs were brought out and it was always most confusing trying to talk to four faces about one student. Very weird!
And the molecule at the top of this post?
Well for a while a few staff used to dress up their desks in not quite a “Pimp my Ride” sort of style. One maths teacher covered his desk with green poster paper and put loads of pot plants on or around the work top. It looked like a display from the Chelsea Flower show. A CDT teacher rigged up some Christmas lights to his desk that pulsed all evening long in a really annoying way. I used to make Molymod© molecular structures and leave them on my desk. Ethanol looked like a little dog which caused much amusement, but little opportunity for teaching and learning!
Now then, I forgot about the one year anniversary of Clive’s death as I was on my Czech beer crusade. He would have approved, certainly more so than with the appointment of a new boss at the County Ground. Got me thinking back CJ!
Phosphorescence is a word I remember looking up in a dictionary whilst reading Kenneth Grahame’s description of a moonlit punt by Rat and Mole in Wind in the Willows. As a Chemist I did not really compute as to what this was all about until I learned about Henning Brand and his discovery of the element from which the phenomena got its name.
Finally, this is where CJ comes in, I actually saw a wonderful example of phosphorescence when I used “the downstairs toilet” of his 1930’s canal boat in the small hours of one moonlit night. The boat that Sue and CJ lived on did not have its own flushing toilet – the nearest one was in the shower block of the marina. A few pints of Thatcher’s cider (with a slice) in the local pub to wash down the meal we had that night lead to one of those “needed that” pisses over the side of the boat. Before retiring to bed himself, CJ was good enough to show me the right spot to stand at and aim in case I got caught short in the night. “Good man CJ!” I thought to myself as I followed his advice, finally seeing what Kenneth Grahame was on about as I urinated into the River Avon.
On a Saturday I used to stop by and see Clive by taking a quick detour down the A4 on my way home from watching the Rovers in Bristol. It was always good to catch up and just chew the fat. I remember Sue always cooked a bit of garlic on his eggs at breakfast the next morning. I too like Andy Daly miss the old fart.