Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Same Bell Again

Audio to follow 
You might recognise bits of this story from here or here, but stick with it. 
She moved her head and watched the reflection of her face distort in the shiny gold in front of her. She longed to touch the bell, to pick it up and give it a shake; hear the tones of the clanger on the metal. It really was a thing of beauty. The highly polished waist was criss-crossed with the scratches of time, the tip of the dome was slightly dented and the rim scuffed.  Of course they didn’t use it anymore. Instead of the melodic ringing, her ears were invaded every thirty-five minutes by the grinding, grating buzzer telling the students the lesson was over. Despite being surplus to requirements, the bell sat just outside the office as a reminder of a bygone age.
Ha, those long lost days where teachers were shown a modicum of respect and could take appropriate retribution on anyone who stepped out of line. Not that they needed to use it that often, it was the threat of the dap or the cane that kept behaviours in check. These days it wasn’t just the students who showed their insubordination, the teachers were an unruly bunch too.   Always whinging and moaning about the paperwork and the behaviour while misbehaving themselves; messing about and never getting things done on time. She knew what they called her. The kids called her Gruffalo, the teachers called her grunge. Grunge, it made her sound ancient; Jesus she was only forty-five. She looked at her face in the bell and inspected it. The grey flecks amongst the dark hair reminding her she needed another trip to the hairdressers. But the hair dressers couldn’t fix the crow’s feet around her eyes or the lines around her mouth. It wasn’t meant to be like this. She’d seen herself as a benevolent head teacher; a kind hearted soul who nurtured the young minds in her care. Instead she’d become a dragon, ground down by the system; nagging and moaning and frowning, always bloody frowning. What would make her happy now was to hear the ringing of that bell.
“Bugger it,” she said.  The wooden handle felt as good as it looked and the bell let out a gentle tingle as Mrs Griffiths picked it up. She felt the smooth surface in her hand, worn down by the hands of headmasters past. She felt the power of their presence through her body. She held the bell above her head and brought her hand down. 

It clanged and tingled, filling the room with the most delicious tone she had ever heard.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Fire Alarm

For audio click here 
The one thing you don’t want to happen on the first day of a new job is a fire alarm, especially when you are in charge of fourteen Chinese students who have about 6 words of English between them. I looked at them, they looked at me, none of us had a clue what to do next as the siren wailed. It was a horrible sound, more like a foghorn than a fire alarm; a long blast then a second of calm before another whrooooooo.
“Stay here,” I said and opened the classroom door. There was calm outside, no one was running down the stairs or shepherding their students out of the building.
This was all I needed. It had been a shitty enough morning already. I’d almost been late for work on my first day thanks to firstly oversleeping, and then my two-year-old not letting me have my phone. I’d got to work and discovered I’d forgotten my soft ball; no teacher has a first lesson without a soft ball.  So it had not been the most auspicious of starts and it was getting worse.
I knocked on the door of the next door classroom.
“Hi what’s that sound?” I said to the bemused looking teacher.
“Sounds like an alarm,” she said.
State the bleeding obvious, I thought. “Is it the fire alarm?” I asked.
“I dunno, it only started when you came in the room,” the teacher said.
I turned and left her classroom. Still there was no reaction from any of the other teachers. This was weird. The siren was wailing and no one seemed to care. I popped down stairs in to reception.
“What’s that noise?” I said to the receptionist.
“What noise?” she said. “Oh that noise. I dunno, never heard it before.”
I scratched my head. The siren was still blasting, but I suppose if no one else was worrying, I may as well go back to my class and get on with my lesson.

“It strange, teacher,” one of the students said to me.
“Very,” I agreed.
“No, the sound, it go with you.””
“The sound um,” she searched for the word. “disappear when you do.”
“I’m making the sound?”
“Yes, you are the sound.”

I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out my phone. The siren got louder. My son must have played with the alarm when he had my phone this morning., setting it for 14.37 and changing the noise to horrible fire alarm. My students collapsed in laughter, I wanted a hole to open up and swallow me.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Barry Corby Part 8

Audio to follow 
Please note for the next 8 work days I will have limited access to the internet. I hope that I will be able to publish a story every day but the timing might be a bit less predictable. 
Thank you for your understanding. 
For part 1 click here part 2 click here and part 3 click here and part 4 here and part 5 here  and part 6 here and 7 here 

Corby Dead
Successful Businessman and football club owner Barry Corby died yesterday at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland.
Corby (45), who was the owner of Castleton United Football club as well as the proprietor of many businesses in Castleton, leaves behind a loving wife, Lulu who he’s been married to for over twenty years. It is believed that local man Corby travelled alone to Geneva on Tuesday and died at the Clinic on Thursday.
In a brief statement released thorough Castleton United, Corby, who was recently crowded Castleton's business person of the year for the sixth consecutive year, claimed that after being diagnosed with an incurable disease he didn't want to be a burden on anyone. Therefore, he had taken the decision to end his own life once he'd had time to put his affairs in order. Corby revealed last month that he had been given just months to live after a routine check-up revealed a rare debilitating condition. In an exclusive interview with the Castleton Chronicle, Corby gave an insight into how the disease was taking its toll on his mind and body and how it was playing havoc with his personal relationships, but at that time he vowed to fight it as best he could.
Castleton United, who were promoted at the end of last season, will hold a minute's silence before their next home game to allow fans to pay their respects to a man who is credited with saving the football club and setting it on the path to success.
Arthur Macintosh, the club's new chairman, moved to assure fans that the club was in safe hands. Barry loved this club and took steps before his death to secure its future. Arthur said in a statement.  We will continue to see investment from the new owners and I, as Barry's best friend, will strive to ensure that all his hard work survives. Mrs. Corby was not available to comment. 

Heartbroken Widow Left Penniless
Lulu Corby, Barry Corby’s grieving widow has been left penniless after details of Barry Corby’s will were revealed. According to reports Barry Corby made a large donation to a cat charity in Poland just days before his death, while other funds were used to pay for the assisted suicide, leaving Mrs. Corby with nothing. Mrs. Corby 40, who’d been married to Barry Corby for over twenty years was left visibly shaken by the news.
“I don’t understand why he’s done this,” A tearful Mrs Corby told reporters outside Macintosh and Jones Solicitors. “He’s illness must have affected his thinking. I knew he was selling his companies before his death, but he told me it was so I would be cared for. He didn’t even like cats.”  
Mrs. Corby flanked by Castleton United manager Ross Kettering wiped away a tear as she told of the shock of Barry’s death. “He told me he was just going on a business trip, but then I got a call from the clinic in Switzerland. He was terribly brave.”

An unnamed sourced suggested that even the house that was their family home for over fifteen years is owned by the football club leaving Lulu with the threat of eviction. Arthur Macintosh, the new club chairman, said it was the club’s policy not to comment on property it owned, but confirmed there were no plans to evict any individuals from club property in the near future.

Barry closed the website and looked out of his window. The sun was glistening off the gentle waves lapping the shore. He'd been dead for exactly a week. He had a whole new life ahead of him.  He should have been happy.