I took a call recently on the Bat Phone.
This is slang for the emergency number, and no, I don’t know how it got its name… although I think we borrowed it from the highly successful Batman and Robin Series.
The phone call was from Mrs Bxxx. Mrs Bxxx is a lovely lady who has hosted for many years and you can’t get much past her with regard to student’s behaviour. In fact I would venture further to say that Wars have been won and lost with people like Mrs B in control of Troops. But I digress….
Anyway the reason for her call was that, as she put it, ” she was in a bit of a state…” I wondered what the reason could be and I could hear that she was labouring her breath when the story unfolded. I sat down and knew this could be a story to beat all stories.
Apparently she had gone to the Linen Drawer where she always keeps her clean pillowcases and was about to put the clean ones in when a little face popped up at her. She said she immediately screamed loud enough to raise the dead from their graves and dropped all of the pillow cases into such a heap that they would have to be ironed again. I was still no wiser as to the situation and began to list the many other things I could be doing when she continued her story. Somewhere between laying down the pillow cases in her linen drawer and her about to close it tight, a little face popped up to say ” hello”
When I say ” little face” I am NOT talking about a student. No, I am talking about a Gerbil.
Somewhere between the students arriving and going into Brighton one or both of them had purchased a Gerbil and made it a super nest in the Linen drawer of Mrs Bxxx. And not just any pillow case, I’ll have you know, dear readers, but apparently some with an extremely high thread count which means that not only will they mark quite easily but also crumple without a care in the world, notwthstanding that Mrs B had actually just ironed them to within an inch of their lives! Oh, and don’t get her started on the starch. Yes, she had starched them as well….
Surprisingly the little Gerbil didn’t mind Mrs Bxxx screaming at the top of her voice and continued to bed down in her best cotton as well as gnaw away quietly on the lace. ” Oh heavens above, ” said Mrs Bxxx ” my best lace pillow cases all frayed and chewed, and I have had those since my wedding day”. ( So readers that is quite some time as Mrs Bxxx is approaching 70, I would say ! Actually its probably 80, but I wanted to be kind)
I apologised profusely and said I would arrange to go around and bring with me the offending student (s). She also said that she thought I should hurry up as the Gerbil looked like it could be ” in the family way” and she didn’t want another dozen staring up at her when she next went to put the pillow cases away. I agreed and sped off to the class.
As I was walking through the corridor I heard another eruption in the class of Richard who appeared to be about to self combust. Richard, although a teacher of extremely qualified means, does sometimes have problems with the care and control of his students. They seem to play upon his good nature and as recently as last week I was called to confiscate a football which seemed to have worked its way into the lessons and whilst he was explaining about the rights and wrongs of ” double negatives“, to the kids in the front, the ones at the rear were playing football off the walls. So thinking it would be a good idea to drop by first and pin point the noise, I popped my head in the door to see a crowd of people, including Richard, leaning over a student and a rather large empty box. Yes, dear readers it would appear you are there before me, and we had indeed another case of ” Gerbil in the House“
This time it was not one, but two Gerbils and they were now scampering around the classroom, having made another ” Great Escape ” trying to be trapped by excited students who thought this a lot better than learning all about phrasal verbs.
Gerbils, it would appear, are full of fortitude and didn’t seem to care one jot about the noise around them. They probably were enjoying their race to freedom and were in and out of legs and rucksacks without the slightest care in the world. Of course this was a great diversion for the students although it’s fair to say that Richard didn’t see it in the same way and chaos was reigning however hard he begged for silence.
I tried to shout over the noise which seemed to be resembling something like a Wednesday morning in a local Tunisian Souk ( or Souq). Noise; Chatter; Smells and, of course, animals on the loose. It really was great fun. Finally, Andreas managed to catch both Runaways, and we tried to reassemble the class, but as I am sure you can imagine, settling them back down to lessons was not an easy task.
Lunch was early that day!
As the day wore on, I took a total of 4 phone calls from Host Families who had discovered Gerbils in various places, although Mrs B’s does seem to have remained at the top of the list for ” interesting places to hide!”. As she reported back to me later in the week, whilst she could see the funny side of it, she hoped her mother in law – who had been dead some forty years, wasn’t rolling in her grave over the state of her wedding present linens.
When all Gerbils were rounded up, even the ones who appeared to be about to give birth, I herded them back to the Pet Shop and caused somewhat of a debacle myself. Whilst in my quieter moments I did indeed give a little chuckle in the night at the amazed faces on host families and teachers who came across these little animals, I was not going to admit it to the local Pet Shop who sold these creatures, knowing they were foreign students and would not be allowed to take them home. No, he needed to be made to squirm and squirm he did. At first he said there were no refunds and ignored my pleas, so I turned nasty and said that if he didn’t want a scene outside his shop, I would bring the students down there for a mass demonstration with placards.
I suggested he should give all the students their money back if he didn’t want a mass Rally akin to Greenham Common on his doorstep and so having found he had no option but to do this, he handed over the thirty pieces of silver and also took back the Gerbils! As they say in Hip Communities, it was a ” bit of a result!” Everybody but “him” was happy. And, as always, after retelling the story to Mr Wu, he has the usual upbeat response… ” Everybody happy… its all A-OK!”
and indeed it was…..