If you thought the 'stories' I referred to in the last post were bad, think again. You ain't heard nothing yet. So I write this post, cup of coffee and biscuit to hand and the distant sound of a school bell signalling the end of break, (I remember it well). More memories of long gone days. Strangely enough I am reminded of 'Blue Remembered Hills' by Dennis Potter a 1979 play, a great favourite of mine and enjoyed with many a class in the 1980's.
Diary September 1985, continued.
'The second story concerns another little, out of work man. He walks round the town, knocking on doors, calling at factories, all to no avail. Desperate, he arrives at the local zoo. 'Have you got any work' he asks. ' Cleaning, painting, feeding, mucking out the elephants, I'll do anything.'
The zoo owner is impressed, but times are hard.
'Sorry' he says, 'we can't afford to pay any more wages, we're struggling with the animals as it is.'
The little man looks very dejected and the zoo owner takes pity on him.
'Look' he says, 'we've just lost a gorilla and we can't afford another. You're about the same size . Three pounds a week and all the bananas you can eat.'
The little man is delighted. He goes round the back of some cages and is fixed up with a gorilla skin. A bit warm but an excellent fit.
'Make the right noises, grunts and similar, climb around a little but don't overdo it,' says the zoo owner.
The little man was delighted with his job, and very enthusiastic. He trotted back and forth in his cage, grunting and swinging his arms. He climbed the bars of the cage, terrifying the gathered crowd. Increasing in confidence and enjoyment, he practiced swinging from a tree inside the cage. Back and forth he swung, higher and higher. Suddenly his hands slipped. Up, up he went, up and over the fence separating him from the next cage. Horrified he viewed a lion gazing curiously at him. He ran to the back of the cage, screaming but the lion followed. The lion put his face close to his and the little man shut his eyes. Then he heard the lion whisper out of the corner of its mouth.
'Shut up, you fool, you'll get us all the sack.'
And the moral of the story, never judge a person by his exterior, it's what's inside that counts.)
Over two or three years the 'sermons' were provided or extracted from strange sources. ''The Finger of Suspicion' , a fifties or sixties song (who sang it we were never certain) was interwoven into a story. (There is a saying that, if you point a finger at someone, you point three at yourself, a physically accurate point when you think about it.) Harold Larwood and Dolly Parton, for different reasons were also the centre points of assemblies.
Johny Owen, the young Welsh boxer who died of boxing injuries had a profound influence on me and also became the subject of a talk. Monologues, that old fashioned medium were even resurrected on occasion. Not 'Albert and the Lion' but in particular a lesser known offering concerning the boy who asks for a doll at Christmas, not for himself, but for a less fortunate sister. Always searching for material that might amuse, educate, stimulate. An interesting aspect of school teaching, nevertheless. Happy days!'
(If anyone can pinpoint the doll monologue, I'd be grateful, I'd like to do a future blog that includes this story.)