On a school trip to The Commonwealth Institute one of my pupils, the delightful Portia, told me she felt unwell. She was only 5 and this was the furthest from her home and family she had ever been; so I picked her up and gave her a hug to make her feel better.
She was sick all down my back, inside the neck of my shirt and dripping all the way down into the waistband of my trousers. Despite having packed a multitude of items to counter every possibility (except this one) I realised that my only options were;
- Walk around covered in sick for the rest of the day.
- Walk around bare-chested with my class
- Wear my neatly folded pacamac all zipped up and partially see through instead of a shirt.
Option one was not something that I felt comfortable with, option two wasn’t really a serious contender – I am sure it would have ended with me being arrested. So, train spotter’s anorak it was. How I wished that we had arranged a visit to a major attraction that was self-important enough to sell tee-shirts of itself in the gift shop.
All things considered the trip was a success, Portia got better and everything came out in the wash so to speak.
This disastrous trip still seems tame when compared with the trip to Epping Forest. On the return journey I was shepherding children onto the crowded train when the doors closed – with me still on the wrong side. My entire class was whisked away from in front of my unbelieving newly qualified eyes. I had to wait for the next train and then walk back into school to the cheers and shouts of all the children who had, of course, made it safely back and entertained themselves while they waited for me.
None of this is as exciting as the trip a couple of years ago when one of my students decided to run away. It was on Dartmoor, nearly dusk and he had a history of running far and fast. The 12 police cars, mountain rescue team, police helicopter, tracker dogs and staff from the residential centre worked hard to find him and keep him safe. But you know a trip was not what you planned when it makes the local news.