Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Speech night

or awards night or something else night with  speeches.
"We just have to sit there and it gets so boring," Ms Whirlwind told me.
This is Sports Night. Ms Whirlwind is not very interested in sport. This may be my fault - or her father's fault. Neither of us are terribly interested in sport. Well, all right. I have no interest in sport. Her father is only interested in cricket. As Ms Whirlwind puts it, "At least my Dad knows who won the cricket." She then looks at the Senior Cat. He has absolutely no idea. 
Sports Night at School is designed to cut down on the time that Speech Night would otherwise take. Sports Night is a strictly one hour affair held at the beginning of the last term of the school year. Awards and certificates are handed out. The School Principal talks for around five minutes. The Head of Games for another five and the awards are handed out by some sporty type who is asked to keep their speech "short". That's it. The Whirlwind still finds it boring.  I suspect most of her friends do too. She does not expect me or her father to attend. She is in the cricket team but sports awards are not her thing.
She asked me about Speech Nights. I don't really remember them. "Well, when you got your degrees then...was it boring?"
"I didn't go," I tell her, "or, I did go once but I didn't want to."
She looked at me in disgust. 
"Why did you go then?"
"Because we were told we must go."
I explained how there had been a row about our teaching diploma  ceremony. None of the students wanted to go because the Principal suddenly decreed that the staff who did not have degrees (and there were quite a few in those dim, distant days) could not sit on the stage as they did not have the right to wear an academic gown. The students, apart from one or two, were "bonded" to the Education Department. If they didn't attend - and did not have a medical certificate - they were told they would not get their diplomas. 
I had worked damned hard for my diploma, probably a good deal harder than any other student as I had also had to support myself while they had been getting their allowances. I wanted the diploma and I caved in along with everyone else. It is something I still regret doing.
I told the Whirlwind this. She listened in silence and then she nodded. "It's all right. I think everyone would understand."
Maybe they did. I don't know. I still feel guilty.

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