The Mona Lisa before she had a shave. Notice how the eyes follow you round the room? That's detached retina's, that is...
The school I was visiting on Tuesday, has to have one of my favourite names of any school I go to. This was the delightfully named Amberley Parochial Village School. Anything with the name parochial in it immediately sets me to thinking about Father Ted. But rather than being marooned on the shores of Craggy Island, Amberley is a beautiful Cotswold village, halfway up a big hill in Gloucestershire near Stroud. Strong Laurie Lee country which is always good news for me. However, as the dark morning drive up from Somerset gave way to a pale early light, I might as well have been in Catford for all the scenery I could see. Fog, fog, thick, thick fog. My previous visit to Amberley had been back in 2009 and on that day I had arrived on a piercingly bright autumnal morning. My arrival on Tuesday was in a thick fug of dampness and low visibility. However, the warmth of my welcome was as nice and generous as had ever been. Miss Hyland who booked me at this school was there again and I was soon gulping down generous cups of tea whilst setting up in their charming hall. The group of children, year 3 and 4 combined, were mostly good natured and fun to work with. One little girl burst into tears as soon as I started and continued in this fashion for the rest of the day - usually spending most of her time with her fingers in her ears, but she did laugh a lot as well folks, don't think me some kind of sadistic monster.
On my previous visit to this school I'd had to take a drive out to purchase some lunch, and what with their being no local shop my choice of sandwiches had been reduced to some curling relics on the shelf of a nearby petrol station. Therefore, forewarned against this I had come fully armed this day with a tin of mulligatawny soup (made with real owls) and some crusty bread. Lunch was very warming and spicy and went down a treat.
The afternoon was a little fractured and unsmooth due to a late start back in the hall, and then having to finish very promptly for an end of school assembly. The jousting was fun but ended controversially when a very good lads team had to be disqualified for blatant rule breaking - not a popular decision on my behalf, but rules is rules folks. So with the ladies winning by default the score on our accumulator is now:
GENTLEMEN 7 - 10 LADIES
They're getting away again and the lads are on a bit of a slippery slope it seems. I began the drive home slightly worried - I was driving down one of the hills when my car seemed to start making an alarming metallic grinding noise, almost akin to an angle grinder. I soon located the noise - a man in a garden very close to the road using an angle grinder. Ah, that would be it then. Silly me. I got home in the evening and watched a rather poor Manchester City get deservedly beaten by Napoli in the Champions League, and thence to bed. Did some voice over work for my friend Greg Stevens at Radio Sherborne this morning, and then out again tonight. Tomorrow is a return to another of my favourite schools with my annual visit to Parkfield Junior in Taunton and the near legendary Mr Wynford Sides. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.