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1 Debate!


   “Debate!” Headmaster Crochet cried out prematurely, then leant against the whiteboard for support. He was a silvery-haired, old-fashioned man, dressed in tweed clothes circa 1903. In his hands were the results of Murkworth School in the county league tables - in the borough of Turgeley and Burpeley. Murkworth had scored low. Out of the many schools featured, they were rock bottom. “The children in this school are hooligans,” he ended.

   “Is that a question - or a statement?” Mrs Norman, art teacher, attempted sarcasm. She was a matter-of-fact, finger-pointing woman, with a sharp tongue and high-waist attire. In her humble opinion, her talents and two degrees from Burpeley University were squandered in this decrepit school. She despised the previous head teacher Miss Lumière for running away. And she hated herself for not being able to get a job anywhere else. “And how are we supposed to answer it?”

   “Precisely,” Mr Hoarse, the tall, unreasonable person in the adjacent seat agreed with a big nod. He was a history teacher – a trivial man who owned a face like a startled goat. He had, over the many years of his teaching at Murkworth School, acquired a long list of petty prejudices. For starters, he didn’t like school hymns. He didn’t like loud children either. You can only have a very loud person as believer of such a notion, you must understand.

   There were other teachers who supported this theory, including the towering, bellowing one who taught English by the name of Mr Yadav.

   Mr Yadav was sitting in the corner of the infant classroom, staring out of the window and scowling. He leant forward suddenly, as if inspiration had taken him, and shouted across the room.

  “You know what a boy said to me one morning?” he yelled. The teachers seated winced and shook their heads, though they knew what was coming next. Mr Yadav had the terrible habit of repeating his stories over and over again. It gnawed at other people’s nerves, like a mouse nibbling a cheese grater. “I said to him ‘have you done your homework?’ and do you know what he said to me? ‘Why should I?’.” Mr Yadav leant back in his rickety wooden chair with a squeak and sniffed. “And you know something?”

  “No,” the teachers mumbled, having heard this anecdote at least twenty times, desperate to hear the end of it all and for this stagnant meeting to end.

  “I didn’t know what to say to him!” Mr Yadav cried with a snort.

  Mr Hoarse scratched his head.

  The teachers stared blankly in front of them.


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