Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Venerable Miss F

Yesterday I saw the lovely T, one of our former pupils. She has a statement for autism. She's quite high on the spectrum, but despite some students being wary of her rather peculiar behaviour, she was popular at school for her cheery nature, her charm and her very sweet friendliness. She has gone on to study at a local college but she still comes back to see us by arrangement, as she misses her old school and many of her teachers.

She arrived during the pouring rain, and I took her upstairs to the SEN department and draped her sodden coat and bag on a chair next to the heater to dry out. As we chatted, she was able to remember my birthday, the birthday, name and age of my daughter, who she has never met, and the names and birthdays of many staff, some of whom have been gone for a couple of years. She could also relate verbatim parts of a science class she had attended three years ago, describing text-book style what a hypothesis is, and the experiments her class had done to illustrate this.

T was also telling me about Miss F, her favourite science teacher. She described her hair style, her lessons, how Miss F had told T about burning the ironing (this is one of T's favourite stories and she loves to retell it) and some other sweet and funny incidents told to T by Miss F. I realised how very fond of her science teacher T was.

Later I described T's visit to one of our long-standing teaching assistants, and said I was sorry not to have met Miss F. 'She doesn't exist,' I was told. 'But all those details…the ironing incident, the rainy day when Miss F was expecting her first child, the discussion on hypotheses…?' 'No, all made up!' T has constructed Miss F, her funny and charming stories, her son, her birthday and even her lessons all from real experiences and has brought them together in the perfect teacher. Who says she's not real? She is to T.

I got soaked in the playground five days in a row this week. So now I have yet another cold, and instead of vising my friend, watching his latest show and taking photos for his new publicity flyer, I am sitting comfy-cosy at my desk, sniffing, snuffling and sewing while I watch 'The Old Man and the Sea' with Spencer Tracy on YouTube. Even those rain-clouds have a silver lining if you look for it.

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