My neighbour has the cutest little boy, Matthew, who is in Kindergarten at the local school. He is going back to school tomorrow and is really excited because tomorrow is his favourite day – Show & Tell.
Show & Tell usually consists of a group of children bringing something from home which they show the rest of the class. Sometimes the other kids ask questions about the item. Often it is passed around.
The more creative kids often break away from the showing a favourite toy or other item format and talk about holidays, sporting events, movies they’ve seen and so on. However, there are those who find the show format completely suits them. Like the boy in Nick’s Kindergarten class who brought the same item once a week for the entire year. It was a toy fire engine with an actual working siren. Every time the siren went off all the kids in the class screamed. It was hilarious. The teacher eventually banned that fire engine. I suspect she was tired of the screaming.
Matthew asked me if I had Show & Tell when I was at school. I laughed at the memory.We had something called News Of My Life where once a week we had to stand in front of the class and regale them with a lively little anecdote. Most of the kids talked about their new kitten or how their front tooth had fallen out and there had been masses of blood. I’ll never forget the screams of horror when Stella McGregor passed around her front tooth with a bit of bloodied gum still attached to it. I thought Sister Benedicta was going to have one of her turns there and then. I was poised to run to the sick bay for her special pills.
One day when I was about seven, I got in trouble for the news of my life.
I realised at quite a young age that I observed things in the world differently to the other kids. I would notice weird things, quirky things that no one else did. And I would remember them quite vividly.
The troublesome news anecdote I related started off with me seeing a woman in the street who looked like my Auntie Nelly. My Aunt Nelly was an extremely striking woman but even though it was the early 1970s, dressed in a very matronly way as if she was still trapped in the 1950s.
She usually wore white blouses with mother-of-pearl buttons done right up to her throat with a beige cardigan and an even beiger full skirt with a belted waist, finished with tan brogues. No paisley or flares or platform shoes for my Aunt Nelly.
So I saw this woman whom I thought at first was my Aunt Nelly only she was slighter, younger and her skirt while full, was black and silky looking.
The woman moved along the street lightly. I thought she was floating. I was sure she must have been a dancer.
It was a very windy day, the kind of day you curse if you happen to be wearing a skirt.
The woman walked along and an enormous gust of wind blew up behind her. Her skirt billowed outward and upward. She didn’t grab at it in a panic, dropping her bags and staggering into the road like so many others did. She leaned sideways, bending her knees and swung her arm behind her, pulling her skirt to her and straightening it in one fluid movement as if she was an elegant, beautiful treble clef.
She walked along, nonplussed. A player in a Minuet of Winds.
I told this story to the class. Sister Benedicta denounced me as a naughty, shameful girl looking at women’s underwear. She made me say four Our Fathers and two Hail Marys at the Naughty Desk. I joined Stella McGregor who was in disgrace yet again; this time for bringing in a glass jar full of spit.
Stella paused mid Our Father.
‘Did you see her knickers?’ she asked.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘They were red.’
We both nodded, knowing it was fitting somehow that the lady caught in the wind should have red knickers. We smiled at the thought as we went back to our penance.