’Tis the end of term, ’tis the season to be jolly, and I have come to school bearing a gift.
“Prepare for something magical,” I say to my students. And after an X Factor-type pause, I flourish my Miracle on 34th Street DVD at them. Their lukewarm response turns less lukewarm when I tell them the alternative is my Merry Maths Christmas Code-breaker.
The amazing thing is that by the end of the film, a real miracle has occurred. There is an unexpected outbreak of peace and goodwill among the children.
The question is, will it continue into the afternoon when our Christmas party (a dangerous combination of e-numbers and competitive games) is scheduled to take place?
Festivities get off to a good, if slightly unnerving, start with the students complimenting each other on their party clothes. I don’t really start to worry until they accept being out at musical statues.
By the time Nathan generously insists on Argon having the last packet of smoky bacon crisps, my nerves are in tatters. It is all too reminiscent of Christmas Day in the trenches. How long before the ceasefire gives way to mayhem and madness?
The answer is approximately 30 minutes. A seemingly minor skirmish over whose turn it is to remove the next wrapper on the pass-the-parcel leads us – as inevitably as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – to all-out war.
The only way to restore peace is to give them bread and circuses. Or rather, choc-ices and Ze Great Eddisono, man of mystery and mind-reader extraordinaire.
Soothed by their ice cream, the audience patiently await the arrival of the magician. Fortunately they do not have to wait long.
Before Britney has time to respond to her classmate Billy accidentally dripping something cold and sticky down her neck, the great man appears in the doorway. Despite his tinsel-covered headdress and mysterious Eastern European accent he is remarkably reminiscent of a certain teacher.
Refusing to reveal his true identity, Ze Great Eddisono distracts his audience with a £20 note and six school dinner plates.
While lining up the plates in a neat row, he allows the children to examine his banknote. And only when its authenticity is established beyond any reasonable doubt does he randomly select a volunteer to come forward and hide it.
“Zis tventy pound note can be yours, but only if I cannot identify under vich plate you haf hidden it,’ said Ze Great Eddisono.
Then the magician turns his back on his audience, folds his arms, and waits patiently. Before we know it his beautiful assistant, Mrs Rottweiler, declares that everyone is ready for him to perform his extraordinary feat of mind-reading.
The mighty magician concentrates his superior mental powers, pausing only to berate his audience for thinking that their puny brains might defeat him.
Strutting around the classroom, he boldly declares his genius. Finally he moves to lift up plate number three, stopping just in the nick of time.
Only after briefly contemplating plate five does he, with a triumphant flourish, lift up plate number four and successfully retrieve his £20 note.
“Will this keep the children entertained until home time?” whispers Mrs Rottweiler. “Now that would be a miracle,” replies the ever-insightful magician.