Bitter fruits

3rd April 2015 at 01:00

Spring finds me huddled with my safety cup in the bleakest corner of a hailstorm-menaced playground. To make matters worse, I am encircled by warring factions that seem intent on bringing chaos and cruelty where there should be friendship and peace. Only by threatening to bring playtime to a premature end with a mighty blast on my whistle am I able to separate three snarling alpha males from their baying packs.

Facts prove hard to come by but preliminary enquiries suggest Jiyden started it when he laid claim to an area of the playground known as "the Picnic Benches". Despite this innocent-sounding description and the fact that on warm summer mornings they are a nice place for the children to relax and eat snacks, the Picnic Benches are also an ideal spot for an ambush. This usually involves leaping from the tables on to passing innocents such as Preston.

But Preston is not as innocent as he makes out. It didn't take him long to recognise the strategic importance of the Picnic Benches and to set about securing them for himself. To this end he took up an unorthodox type of weaponry. How no one until now had thought of turning our ready supply of fresh fruit into artillery remains a complete mystery.

It was a tactic that soon caught on, for Jiyden immediately began to use it too. Then so did Argon, who before being struck by a stray Braeburn had been happy to pass the time demonstrating his favourite wrestling moves on reluctant friends. In no time at all, several happily marauding hordes of boys were entering the fray.

"You will not use our healthy, vitamin-rich, free fruit to attack each other," I remonstrate. "It is meant for nutrition not ammunition. Throwing it around is not only wasteful but dangerous. Look what one of you did to poor Anna." I point to the innocent victim of a stray satsuma.

Despite the girl's tears, the combatants show little sign of contrition and are in fact annoyed at the unfairness of my intervention. "We were only playing Game of Thrones," snaps Jiyden. I stare at him in amazement. Anyone familiar with the series knows it would be inappropriate viewing for children.

It's not only the graphic portrayal of physical and sexual violence that's unsuitable (murder, torture and rape are routine in a world where women appear to have little or no access to underwear) but also the complete lack of humanity. Even the few essentially good characters survive only by allowing themselves to become brutalised by the random cruelties they experience.

As a sharp northeaster begins to fling hailstones at us, I make a solemn decree. "From now on, Game of Thrones is banned." Bitter protests bounce off me. Even on days like this, HBO's wrong-fest is not a suitable game for a primary school playground.

Steve Eddison teaches at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield

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