Lessons from Mr Arblaster

My dream bicycle

The kids at my primary school didn’t know how lucky they were until they left for the big school in the sky (we didn’t die, it was just that it had two storeys which meant it was pretty much in the sky in relation to us).

Not only did we have a pond which was full of spawn and wiggly things, but there was even a pond monitor (an honourable position that I did have the privilege of occupying once) to protect it from rogue footballs, rogue footfalls, and rogues. We had two playgrounds, two school fields, and they even stopped serving us the pink and green custard with the multicoloured sponge well ahead of Jamie Oliver’s campaign. My school was ahead of its time, and that may be attributed in no small part to the oracle that is/was Mr Arblaster.

He was a great headmaster. He struck awe and fear into every child and never once raised his voice. Despite the fact that his name was cause for much amusement (somehow it turned into eggblaster which was a great new word for farts) nobody would have dared to find anything about him amusing in his presence. He had very large hairy hands which were generally mildly damp and always wore a suit (presumably even on days off).

I have no idea what (or if) he is doing now, but I hope he won’t mind me sharing some of the nuggets of wisdom that I scooped up out of childhood assemblies and have somehow unwittingly stored to this day. To all the children who didn’t listen in assembly, here: let me help you.

1)      Always have a foil blanket, thermos flask and a first aid kit in your boot. If you are a scout or a member of St John’s Ambulance, then so much the better. If not, well carry it anyway and try to use it sensibly in the case of an emergency.

2)      Moles are just as soft when dead (now go and wash your hands)

3)      Always smile and say hello to strangers when you pass them. If we all get into good habits now, the world will be a better place for it!

4)      Classical music is good for the soul and for the brain and should be appreciated in silence. If we can’t do that then well, what can we expect from life? Now crossed legs and fingers on lips so you know you’re being sensible.

5)      Feathers fall slower than weights. (This was tested and found to be a fact)

6)      Always wear a sunhat. The British summertime can be more dangerous than you think. Legionnaires caps are the best and they come in a range of stylish colours.

7)      Here’s how to properly shake a hand. Firm grip, look them in the eye, and release. Practice at home if you need to. It is the secret to getting far in life.

8)      It’s ok to lick your fingers whilst cooking if it’s pancakes.

9)      Burning money is illegal but I have special permission because it’s for illustrative purposes. Don’t do this at home.

Thank you Mr Arblaster. Your wisdom serves me well. So my sunhat is a bit more trilby than legionnaire, and I don’t stroke dead animals all that much, but I still fully embrace every other point. I hope we’ve all learnt something today. End of assembly.


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