First encounters

26th February 1999 at 00:00
Shirley Evans sets off on an epic journey

Once upon a time, a young redheaded maiden from Ireland was told by the powerful Ruler that she was to be sent to work at a school far, far away in the south Wales valleys, many miles from her home in the city. She was not to be paid for the work she did, but instead was promised she would gain great knowledge and experience, so she agreed to go on the journey.

The night before she was due to leave she began to worry about what she should wear, what would be expected of her and how the people there might react to her accent, but she packed her bags and put on her lucky trousers before going to bed. The next morning she rose very early, at an hour which was alien to her, and set off on the journey to the town with the unpronounceable name.

She left the city and its dusty, dirty streets and soon found herself among beautiful hills full of sheep and cattle. It was so breathtaking that she couldn't help but feel good about the task ahead.

After a steep climb up a tall hill, she managed to find what she thought was the entrance to her future workplace, and nervously sought help as to what she should do next. Out of the blue a young boy came her way and said: "Morning Miss. Can I help you?" She marvelled at this strange way of speaking, so unfamiliar in the city.

He led her to a room that resembled a log cabin, where all the adults lived, and she was quickly offered hot drinks and a seat. She felt in awe of the kind words and friendly smiles and quietly took in her surroundings.

After a while she began to worry that she would not be good enough for this place and that she may be sent to one of those scary inner-city schools she had heard talk of. Secretly she crossed her fingers behind her back and made a wish. But the young maiden was aware that the most important meeting was still to take place, where she would have to face the person who would take charge of her and guide her. She realised this encounter was imminent and nervously studied her grubby hands.

In the midst of her thoughts, the redhead became aware of a happy presence about her and heard a tinkly laugh. She looked up and realised this was her guide. She need not have worried, for she came in the form of a fairy godmother who would look after her and grant her every wish.

She could scarcely believe her ears when she was told she was to have complete freedom in choosing what work she did with the little people, that she was to have very little work on a Thursday and that she could even go on journeys to places of interest. She began to think she was in a daydream when she was given her very own room with a view of the trees and mountains, which she was free to decorate as she liked. She decided the mighty Ruler must be very kind to have sent her to this fairytale land where mere servants were given their own keys.

The day passed in a blissful haze, and when she fell into bed that night the redhead could not help smiling happily at her luck. She couldn't see how she would not live happily ever after in the place of the unpronounceable name.

Shirley Evans is studying for a secondary PGCE in art and design at UWIC, Cardiff

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