For many years I have soldiered on under the burden of arachnophobia. I thought it was my biggest fear, aside from the cry of ‘last orders, please’, obviously.
A greater terror now fills my nightmares. Primary school age children, specifically, P4. The class my mate’s eight-year-old little girl is in.
It was such an innocuous invitation. Would I like to go into her class to talk about what it was like to be a child in 1817? Would I? Of course I would.
No-one in my family will talk history to me anymore, so a class full of strangers mostly shorter than me sounded like Disneyland on sherry to me.
How hard could that be?
Well, for a start, I got the shorter bit wrong. I had completely forgotten how improved nutrition has affected our schoolchildren in a positive way.
There were one or two I could just about inch out, but my idea of towering over anyone quickly vanished as I realised that most of them could easily reach up and get a tin of budget beans down from the top shelf of the supermarket to help out a little old Glaswegian lady.
Speaking of nutrition, where do they get that energy from? It’s like talking to a herd of manic space hoppers.
A classroom of primary kids are the human embodiment of a good-natured headache. It’s that get-up-and-go.
Yer average classroom seems to consist of 30-something high-octane mini-people full to the brim with the sort of berserk enthusiasm you see in those fundraising radgies who storm Arthurs Seat in evening wear to raise awareness of depression in hamsters.
Oh, and one calm, Zen-like teacher.
It’s the endless questions. In my young day, we just had to sit there and recite the six times table, but this lot are being encouraged to explore the world, then challenge it.
No good will come of this, I tell you. I’m too old to be challenged. I was just sort of hoping one of them would help me across the road now and then.
We should be throwing medals at primary school teachers. Oh tush, what good is a medal? All primary school teachers should get a day off, a scented bath, then a massage by the celebrity of their choice.
They are trapped all day with these small children. How do they do it? To me it looked less like a career choice and more like a slightly weird hostage situation.