maandag 17 december 2012

The School Trip

   They were all doing mathematics and so I could work some more on the book I was writing. I thought it was becoming quite exciting as it already was. This was the fourth notebook it took. Maybe at the weekend I should take a mathematic book home. I could ask if I might take two along, one book a day was possible for sure. Probably the teacher was going to refuse again. He already warned me that if I finished all the books there would be nothing left for me to do this year. And that was his sole reason for refusing. I thought that this didn't make a lot of sense: I had my book and  that kept me busy.

Oh no, the teacher was starting to explain multiplying again. And we all had to listen;  all included me!  It was all so useless. Except for history and geography. The teacher would tell stories about long forgotten times and far away countries. I liked that. But not this! I looked out of the window and thought about what would happen next. Of course the boys would get lost in that cave. I could make them discover a treasure or something like a skeleton. Or maybe a tramp that was sleeping in the back of the cave.

I was still thinking about this when I discovered that they were through with mathematics. Books were given to everybody. Reading time: we would get turns to read.
The first started to stammer through the first page and I already stopped listening. I read on myself. The book was not bad at all and soon I got a bit in it. Till...
"Albert, will you take over?" Oops, where did the last one stop?
"I would prefer that you stick with us, Albert."
"Yes, sir", I could feel that my face was flushed. I hated that, why couldn't he just leave me alone?

The boy sitting near me whispered the page to me and the teacher said: "The baker...". So I went on for one page until the teacher said: "Jan". I found again where I had to stop and read on.
"Okay, all close your books and listen. Next week we will have our annual school trip, you will get a letter from me to give to your parents. They will want to prepare things for you, I'm sure."

My parents were almost as excited as the children in my classroom when I gave them the letter. It was very nice for me and we would have great fun on the trip. I was looking forward to the rolls I could take along. Mum always made these lovely white ones with cheese and ham. So much nicer than the usual grey dull bread we normally ate.

On the day of the trip we had to get to school fifteen minutes earlier. And of course we all were there half an hour before the normal time. Everybody was very excited. We were directed to the classroom first and waited till the bus arrived. "Blossom Trips" it said on the side and next to it were painted flowers. When we got in, we saw the children from other classes looking at us from their classroom. Some were waving a bit, trying not to annoy their teachers.

Most boys fought to get in and the teacher could not get order by getting them to queue anymore.  I got in after them while the girls were having their normal discussion about who was going to set next to who.
Most boys were way in the back and I got a seat a bit in the middle of the bus and put my backpack on the empty seat next to me. Last year one of the parents who went along sat next to me and tried to start a conversation. I didn't want that again, I wasn't miserable or such, just didn't care. But I was saved by a girl who wanted to sit near her two best friends, so they sort of sat together. It was very okay for me.
When we all were in the bus we waved to some parents who stood next to the bus. The teacher grabbed the microphone and explained some things and the driver took over and made some jokes.

The trip was to a forest and the forester explained a lot to us.  Some things I already knew:  we had been living on the edge of a forest some years. But it was interesting listening to him. So when we had to form circles around him, I was often very close to him.
After the tour through the forest, we went to a big playground. We were told: "Have fun!" and the teacher and most of the parents went inside the restaurant next to the playground. I found a nice bench and enjoyed my rolls. One of the parents came to me and sat next to me. She told me that we were supposed to have our lunch together, we would have lemonade with it. And I should play with the other children. I just shrugged and finished the rolls. She went away and later I saw her talking to the teacher and pointing at me.

So lunch was just lemonade for me. It was quite nice, tasted like apple juice. I was sitting next to some boys who told me that they had been up the climbing tower at the edge of the playground. You could see Amsterdam from there! I knew this was rubbish, but I didn't say so.  After lunch there was some more time to play and then it was time to get in the flowery bus again.

The girl this time wasn't sitting next to me. She sat together with another one. They must have become friends on the playground. Bad luck! The same woman who came to sit on the bench with me joined me. She started a conversation, but probably became bored with me. I wasn't very talkative. She went over to the other parents and sat next to a man. This was very okay with me. This way I could look at the landscape rushing by. And I started to think about the boys in my book. Maybe I could let them do something in a forest.

It was not that late before I saw that we were in our village again. Almost home.
Oh no, the normal thing! Everybody had to hide in the bus. So we all dived below the window level.
The bus arrived and the teacher got out and we heard him say loudly: "Sorry parents, we couldn't find them anymore." And then the whole bunch got up and ran screaming and shouting to the waiting parents. I wasn't in a hurry, knew that my parents would not be there. They never were and I knew my way home, so what was the point?

While I walked home I saw the little groups of parents and children in front of me. And slowly they disappeared, going in their own directions.
"Did you have fun?" , Mum asked.
"Yes", I said, "the rolls were delicious".

donderdag 29 november 2012

The ice ball

The little village we lived in had been covered with a thick layer of snow. It was almost gone on streets and pavement, only gardens and lawns had more left on it. So the grass next to the playground of my school had plenty left too. It was a small school which had been founded just a few years before we came to live in the village and there were only about eighty children attending classes. Before there were only two catholic schools, a boys school and a girls school. Our school had two breaks in the morning, first the youngest children would play outside for a bit and later it was our turn.

I was ten years old and made some friends and we had been having fierce snowball wars amongst each other and against the catholic boys. We noticed that the balls you made now were icy, were easier to throw but could hurt like hell. School had noticed our wars and so the headmaster went to all three classrooms to tell that it was strictly forbidden to throw snowballs on the school premises. We did it anyway and had great fun if we hit each other and the victim would moan about it.

While my mates were chasing a few girls threatening to put some of the cold stuff in their neck, I made a ball and didn't really know what to do with it. On the other end of the playground the headmaster was on patrol wearing his hat as always and I felt a sudden urge to try to knock it off his head. Before I could have second thoughts about it, the ball already flew through the air. My aim was not the best and there was quite a distance between me and him. Normally the ball would have hit the wall behind the man, but unfortunately the son of the local policeman just walked behind him. He probably was on his way to complain about someone, his normal behaviour. He was as unpopular as his father who always took away our footballs and would rip them apart with his knife.

My ball couldn't have hit better: even from my distance I could see the blood spurting out his mouth. This was not what I had wanted to do! So just like all other children I ran towards the boy and the teacher to see what was going on. He was brought inside, later he came out with a little plaster on his upperlip and was brought home on the bicycle by the teacher of the youngest children.
The headmaster ordered us all to line up and we were directed into the classrooms.

The headmaster first gave us a fierceful sermon and announced that he was going to search for the culprit. He was certain that this person was in the classroom. He was going to the bottom of this! We were asked if somebody wanted to confess this ugly deed. And he looked into our eyes one by one. I felt a bit uneasy but I could see that this was the case with almost everybody. Nobody confessed.
So he shouted: "I want you to point out who did this cowardly thing!" Again there were no reactions.
The headmaster announced that we would have to stay in the classroom until somebody stepped forward. We would all have to suffer because of this coward!
He started doing correction work while we waited in silence. A half hour passed by. Nothing happened.
"I have all the time in the world."
We didn't, our mothers were waiting with our lunch and after that we had the afternoon off.

After another hour the headmaster decided we could go. But he warned: "This is not the last you will hear about this!" So we walked out of the school silently. I walked homewards with my mates and they wondered who had thrown this ball so well. They all wished they had done this. The policeman's son had caused all of us plenty of problems. But I knew I should keep this silent in order not to get in trouble. And so I did.

The next day the boy attended school like nothing had happened, only the little plaster was the evidence of it all. And the whole thing was not mentioned anymore, not that day and not the days after.
It did cause me some nightmares. The first nights I fell asleep while wondering what would have happened to me if I had confessed. Telling the headmaster that it was an accident because he was the real target would not have done me any good!
But like the snow the whole story disappeared after a few days.