However, our senior folks are logisticians to match Heathrow, Disney or the Army and when we saw the forecast they jumped to it like good ’uns. Our devised routes and wet weather zones worked a treat. Year 7 in the canteen, Year 8 at the east end of the sports hall, Year 9 in the dojo, Year 10 at the west end of the sports hall curtained off from Year 8, Year 11 in the main hall.
We have routes. Routes to get them to the zones, out of the zones, to the toilet, to the lunch queue and back again. We have routes to detention and places for anyone who gets too excited. We have different rules for packed lunches, sandwiches and Friday fish and chips and a DMZ between Year 7 and 8 dining. We have routes to the prayer room and the library. We have more routes that you could shake a stick at. And we adjusted them all so that Year 11 could have a live assembly in the sports hall about Year 11-y things: exams, working hard and what they might do next year.
We have staff. Heads of Year who didn’t sit down all day, teachers who volunteered to manage zones even though they taught all day, support staff who hold the world together.
And we have children, who did what children do, at various heights. They sat on the floor and chatted, they leaned against the walls and read, they speculated on romance and annoyed each other quietly. They ate tidily and asked teachers how they were. They had elastic bands to confiscate and water bottles to spin, but they held it together. They lined up indoors and waited patiently to be led away. Some of Year 8 didn’t cope so well with a whole day indoors, but they’re at an awkward age. Some will need a bit of re-setting next week, nothing new.
And as I passed thought it all, I saw how open and inclusive they are, how friendly and accepting of the foibles of others – including the bizarre rules seemingly normal adults dream up for them. ‘We have to get there how? Really? Oh, ok then.’
I love Don Paterson’s poem Rain. He talks about looking at lives as if they were in the kind of film that starts with rain and follows its effects on the characters. The last verse moves me every time I read it:
forget the ink, the milk, the blood –
all was washed clean with the flood
we rose up from the falling waters
the fallen rain’s own sons and daughters
and none of this, none of this matters.
The mess and the damp, the mildly frayed tempers and the setting-rights, the silly acts and the overreactions are all bearable, containable if we can rise up. None of this matters if we have hope and kindness, if we have love. It could have been the worst, but at the end of it, in an empty school, it’s been the best wet day I remember.
Thank you Tallis.