Lesson 71 on The further adventures of Arthur
Long ago, when pupils were away for a week on a family holiday, all that happened when they got back was that their teacher asked them if they had a nice time. In the case of Owen’s school not many people had such a treat and the few who did generally took advantage of bargain weeks at a caravan park not that far away.
In the normal course of events hardly anybody left the town. There was a general reluctance to stray from familiar surroundings and routines.
The main places pupils visited at weekends were the town centre, the match and Nan’s. The match was a big expense, but it was amazing how much of some families’ budget must have gone on the team, in one way or another. A handful of families even had season tickets.
As a rule few children ventured far from the estate, even although the seaside was only a bus ride away. One of the older girls explained to me that she didn’t want to miss anything.
“I was in the bath when it all kicked off, but I jumped out and got in my pyjamas quick, so I could go out and see what was going on!”
Family altercations spilled out into the street for the entertainment of the neighbours, and fights were a regular occurrence, especially after drink had been taken. One boy, writing about “What I want to do when I grow up”, had this to say on the topic of family life.
“I want to get married, because if you are on your own there is nobody to row with when you come back from the club on a Friday night.”
One Monday, when we came into school after the weekend, Arthur was spotted anxiously looking for the headteacher, right after he had dropped April off. He was reluctant to tell Mr TopJuniors the reason. He just needed to speak to the head. All he would say was that he was in a bit of bother. He was given permission to wait in the corridor outside her office.
When the head came back from checking everyone safely in, she ushered him into her room.
Arthur had a shamefaced confession to make. He wanted to warn her that he was afraid the police would be getting in touch with the school about him.
“What makes you think that, Arthur?” she enquired stiffly.
“I was picked up shoplifting on Saturday, Mrs Head,” Arthur explained.
Sadly such stories did not come as a shock to Mrs Head, but she was sorry to hear this from Arthur.
“And where you were you picked up Arthur?”
“In the Metro Centre, Mrs Head,'” Arthur confessed.
“The Metro Centre!” Mrs Head gasped. Even after an entire career in the town, teaching could still spring surprises. The Metro Centre was miles away. Only one question about the whole matter occupied her mind.
“But Arthur, how on earth did you get there?”