I was a full time secondary school teacher for around seventeen years; that's well over six thousand days. The vast majority of the time pleasant enough but not memorable to any degree.
I honestly believe all we ever experience is stored in our brains while ever we are 'alive'. The vast majority is so fleeting, unimportant that it registers for the shortest of moments; but its still there, I'm sure. I find myself recalling experiences from school on occasion. I'm not sure why, something unknown acts as a trigger; not always welcome.
At the school were over two thousand pupils and in excess of one hundred teachers. I have experienced many strange things, including two occasions where teachers were actually arrested on the premises. Obviously unusual occurrences, most days are repetitive, mundane, almost boring; teachers in the main are ordinary in the extreme, having the same highs and lows, expectations, problems as anyone else.
Don was a teacher fairly new to the school, taught Business Studies, aged around thirty two, married with children. I was a union rep so made a point of talking to anyone fairly new to the school. In Don's case it usually took the form of commiserating when he had to cover for absent colleagues, a bone of contention with all teachers. A pleasant, quiet man similar in so many ways to many of the other staff at this unexceptional establishment.
On one particular day Don travelled into school as normal. An ordinary day, seemingly. He finished at the normal time, got into his car and travelled home; a distance I suppose of around fifteen miles. (Next day nobody commented as to Don's demeanour or behaviour being strange in any way.)
Don parked his car, changed into his 'jogging clothes' and went down to the local park. Plus Don carried with him a can he had placed to hand in the garage before he left for work in the morning.
On arrival at the park Don poured the contents of the can over himself and lit a match. The contents were of course petrol. (I am told by a fire officer that death is mercifully swift, by suffocation.)
I'm not even sure as to why this event from so long ago has replanted itself in my consciousness at this present time. But it has played on my mind this week several times. I do not wish to dwell on this tragic event. But do you know what baffles me most. If you knew you had planned your 'end' later in the day would you go through the motions of 'normal existence' prior to so horrific an action. How terrible, how sad that none of us realised his torment prior to that bell signalling the end of the school day.
This week is the traditional May Bank holiday week. Particularly a family time. Enjoy yourself. Particularly those in a position to enjoy the blessings of children and grandchildren. Plus we need to give others a little of our time. We are often blind as to what is happening beyond the end of our noses.