I wrote about school tuck shops a while back. Did I write about what happened this year? My son, ever ambitious on my behalf, told his teacher I would be making pizzas for him to bring. And then conveniently forgot to tell me anything about it. When I learnt about these plans through the usual circuitous routes, I was frankly appalled. I had been struggling along at the time with one of these old fashioned ovens and it took me about half an hour to get one pizza done. (We usually order pizzas in like most of the civilised world, of course)
When I pointed this out to Rohan, he gave me a long suffering look and said ‘Don’t worry mummy. I only told them you would send thirty pizzas’. I let out a gasp and a wail but my audience had skipped out on me. I seethed as I waited for my husband to come home and poured my story into his ears. The reaction I got was not quite what I had hoped for. ‘What if we get a new oven?’ he asked. Ignoring the fact that no new oven had been bought while we suffered through slow baked cakes and pizzas at home, I pointed out the obvious to the doting dad. There is NO WAY we will be able to deliver thirty fresh tasting pizzas. And you might as well not deliver cold pizzas at all.
My perfectly reasonable arguments fell on deaf ears and we had a new OTG in our kitchen the next day. I had by then though persuaded Rohan to let me send some pasta instead. On the day of the tuck shop, Rohan’s class teacher asked me to mind the class for a bit while she setup the stalls. I enjoyed this so much I wonder if I have missed my calling. I think I might have made a good teacher. And I would certainly have had fun doing it. I say this inspite of how the entire class wanted to go to the washroom at the mere sight of a substitute teacher. Some many times over!
I had given my son money instead of lunch. When he returned I asked him what he had eaten and he said pasta. I knew that at least one other mom had sent pasta too so I asked if he had eaten that. He looked confused and said, ‘No. I ate what you sent.’ There was a moment’s silence. Then I said it. ‘You spent the money I gave you to eat the pasta I could have packed for you in your tiffin?’ ‘Yes’ replied Rohan slowly and patiently with the look of a boy who had never previously suspected his mother of being so dense.
My son’s class hosted the school assembly this week. Their theme was friendship and parting and they put together a most impressive mix of song, dance and drama. My son was part of a group singing ‘Seasons in the Sun’. I joined him while he was practising the other day, pleased to be familiar with his song for once. When we reached the bit about It’s hard to die my son interrupted to inform me that they would not be singing that part. It made sense – it was not very appropriate. However, that was the end of our musical bonding. I heard the final product during assembly yesterday.
Seasons in the Sun is an adaptation of a French song called ‘Le Moribond’ which means the Dying Man. In the original, it is quite a sardonic song about a dying man bidding farewell to his wife and her lover – who was also his best friend. Now all this was clearly too much drama for the English speaking world and the song was sentimentalised by Terry Jacks into a dying man’s farewell to his loving friends and family. And then, the primary department of my son’s school stepped in with their version.
This highly censored piece not only omits any mention of death, it also has to factor in the fact that the singer is bidding farewell to his friend that he’s known since he was nine or ten. Now the children in my son’s class actually are nine or ten. So they are in effect saying goodbye to a very current friend. And since they are way too young to have a wife, that bit has been edited out as well. Also, no goodbyes to their dad. In this new narrative, they are leaving town (most likely) with their mom and dad so the goodbyes are only for the trusted friend. And unlike Terry Jacks’ version, they have climbed hills and trees but only learned to love their ABCs.
So overall, I am hugely impressed with the school staff’s ability to make do with any material they have at their disposal. No wonder we manage to shoot off 104 satellites in one go.
Finally, there isn’t much left to say but Goodbye Jacqes Brel, you’re free to cry!