Watch out for a wobbly Gormley

14th September 2007 at 01:00

"You should get out more!" I still don't know why I attracted this particular piece of advice. I had just finished ironing my anorak and tidying away my DIY "Build a Taj Mahal out of Matchsticks" kit, but I decided to act on it anyway. It was time to organise the class trip.

Of course, you can't call it anything as simple as that any more, so what I actually did was to initiate the process of facilitating an enrichment and extension activity for a discrete client cohort, if you follow my FEspeak.

The client enhancement I had in mind went as follows: a short boat trip on the Thames; two hours in the Tate Modern; a walking tour of the City, followed by an hour or so in the Museum of London.

"Great," said my boss, pleased to hear of another cohort being suitably enriched. "I take it you've completed the risk-assessment form?"

"But these are adult students," I protested. "In their own city. What could possibly happen to them?"

She shook her head and gave me her best "Am I talking to a 2-year-old or what?" look.

And, of course, she was right. As soon as I downloaded the multi-paged document, I realised the grave danger my students were in. You must, it said, "be aware of risks such as travelling on ferries and walking in city streets". Help! Wasn't this exactly what we were planning to do? River boat? Walking the length of Cheapside? And it would need only one wobbly Antony Gormley in the Tate to take out half the party.

But relief was at hand. It seemed that just by filling out the form, some sort of magical protection was provided. By the time I had reached page 147 (well, OK then, page 8) I'd had enough. Now I realised how it worked. Any sane person would give up halfway through and call the whole thing off. But no, I was determined that my little cohort would be enriched.

After the form, the outing itself was a breeze. One of our most interesting discoveries was a bust of Abraham Lincoln in a dark corner of the Royal Exchange building, just across the road from the Bank of England.

Glad that my students had all survived, I went home at the end of the day a happy man it was the end for me, at least. One enterprising student had arranged for those with more stamina to go on to the theatre.

In the middle of the night I woke up in a panic. Wasn't Abe Lincoln shot at the theatre?

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