A fistful of glue and old CDs

26th May 2006 at 01:00
The Ennio Morricone music played in my head as I tied up the donkey. Arms swinging loosely beneath my poncho, I walked across the courtyard to the building. Cut to a statue of the Virgin Mary. A tumbleweed blew across my path and somewhere a lone bell tolled. It was noon.

"I don't like what you just called my mule," I grated at a man in a sombrero, flicking my cigar away and pulling out my gun. The ill-shaven peasant was stuck to the spot. This job gave me a bad feeling, but I couldn't let a lady down. I paused at the door of the tall building. It was newly built, but I'd heard these places were all front.

Inside, I could expect to find pools of stagnant water and squalid overcrowding. I raised my hand.

"Gregor Steele from the Advisory Service. I'm hear to work with - ", and I mentioned the name of my pal who had booked me, then I added, slightly shakily " . . . and P4".

OK, no mule, no poncho, no cigar, peasant or tumbleweed and the building was lovely inside. There was a statue of the Virgin Mary and I did have a gun that could have stuck someone to the spot, because it was a glue gun.

Had the clocks not gone forward, it would have been noon and I did feel shaky about taking P4, though I was doing a warm-up with P7 before them.

Primary 4 would be so wee. I'd never gone that far down the school before, save for reading some Scots poems at my nephew's place. What if they just rolled around the floor with their feet in the air? What if they cried?

If you are teaching the basics of friction, one tactic is to make a balloon hovercraft by gluing a sports bottle top over the hole of an old CD and stretching an inflated balloon over the mouthpiece. This can then be popped up to let air rush through the CD hole.

Give the whole lot a push and it flees, relatively friction-free, along the desk.

I demonstrated this to the class and was rewarded by uninhibited giggles of surprise and delight. Those in the know had told me that P4 was a wonderful stage, and this turned out to be true.

No greeting, no feet in the air, just a willingness to get in there and take part, especially when, with the help of their glue gun-wielding normal teacher, they got to make their own hovercraft.

I left with a smile on my face, my preconceptions turned on their heads and a fistful of Fairtrade fruit snacks.

Gregor Steele will attempt not to inflict a series of angst-ridden "my secondment's coming to an end" pieces on readers over the next few weeks.

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