Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Lost, or was it Forgotten.

Today's Times includes the story of the airline passenger who, travelling from Tel Aviv to Paris with five children, his wife and eighteen pieces of luggage, managed to leave one of the children behind.
One's immediate reaction is to be horrified at such incompetent parenting but is that necessarily fair? 'Let him who is without sin' and all that springs to mind.
I remember as a proud father of a two year old visiting the local pub with two friends for a convivial couple of hours. Only to remember after the first pint that we had been left in charge of the infant who was fast asleep in bed, blissfully unaware of our wilful neglect. All three of us were teachers at the time but still hopelessly inadequate beings it seems. Our wives were unimpressed with our dereliction of duty and we were all reminded of it for many a day.
As a teacher also I remember taking, with twenty other staff, five hundred secondary school pupils in eight non too luxurious buses to Drayton Manor for an end of term treat. (Alton Towers declined to accept such numbers on one trip and I don't blame them.) We returned with four hundred and ninety seven. The missing three returned under their own steam some time later. It was all very reminiscent of the 'Albert and the Lion' saga though with a less serious ending. Ironically one of the three tragically drowned in a local river days after the school term ended.
I remember too as a youth leader returning from Blackpool to Derby after a youth club outing minus one young lady. I had to knock on the door of her parent's house and explain we had lost the daughter they had lovingly brought up for the past sixteen years. Not funny, I can assure you, even less funny when she arrived home hours later, having found a 'young man' on another trip from Derby and travelled home with her new found friend on their bus.
Contrary to what people might think we were and hopefully still are conscientious if sometimes flawed individuals. But times have changed and in this 'Madeleine McCann' era woe betide any mistake by those in charge, be they parent or teacher. Sometimes, just sometimes I'm glad I'm just an old fool whose main occupation in life is merely watching the world go by. Or is it only me that did daft things; you tell me.

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