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Monday, 26 August 2013

Richter Surfing

It was another normal day in NLHS.

The usual steady file of miscreants, no-hopers and just plain evil b*stards was drifting through my office.  I got rid of these teachers by showing either complete indifference or pretending to be deaf. (Getting old has some advantages)

Then the students began to queue up outside.

It was the usual suspects.  (Loved that film)

  • Kids who had forgotten their ties (We run a quite strict uniform policy)
  • Kids who had forgotten their shoes.
  • Kids who had no intention of ever following any rule made by anyone.
  • Stoned kids.
  • Gang kids.
  • Beaten kids
  • Abused kids.
  • Plus the just plain weird.
I see, you want to be a punk elephant.  Weird.

Then a teacher for whom I have a lot of respect  turned up with a request.  Three of his girls were having a particularly nasty bitch-fest, and he asked me to talk to them.

I called the three girls to my wee office and began the dialogue, (quadalogue??).  We had reached the point where it was obvious that it was a basic problem.

It was the problem we professionals call the "Teenage Girls Being Bitchy to Each Other" and I had just started to discuss this with the girls when I got a phone call from our school office staff.

A pupil (they thought) was running around school with a gun (they thought) and would I do something about it?  NOW.

There were times over the last double handful of years that I've regretted leaving the Army.
This time I regretted leaving my flak jacket and my SLR.

My real friend

Actually, thinking about it now, it could have been really dangerous.  Imagine what would have probably happened in the USA in a similar scenario.  We'd have armed police/swat there in minutes, and probably the principal would have opened the gun cabinet for the selected teachers appointed as defenders.

Go ahead, make my day.

I cautioned the girls to stay in my office, keep the door locked and DON'T break any of my computer equipment or rip each others' faces off, then I left to investigate.

I had a fair idea of who it might be.  Probably one of our Special Needs kids, and I was about 95% sure it was a fake gun.  This young chap also liked to run around school with various self-made martial implements duct-taped to his arm.  Just don't ask, OK?

I started the tour of the school, but didn't spot him anywhere.  I did however spot one of my colleagues with some kids down at the basketball courts, and I walked over to make him aware about the possible danger.

I had just started to talk to him, but we both fell silent as a horrendous noise grew all around us.

It was a grinding crunching noise, almost like a slow-motion bomb going off.

Then the ground began to move.  I was standing in the middle of the asphalt playing surface, and I could see it moving.
Not quite as bad as this

Instinctively I moved into a more stable position, my left foot going forward as I shifted my weight back over my right foot and put my arms out to help keep my balance.  The ground was still moving, a definite side-to-side movement was now evident, as well as a distinct wave motion.

Some of the kids had fallen down, many were screaming and from all round the school we could hear the rising roar of many childish voices in full-blown panic mode.

The quake seemed to go on and on, but in reality it only lasted about 30 seconds.

All the staff acted together to manage the semi-hysterical kids, and finally we got them all shepherded out of school, and on their way home.  We were still getting frequent aftershocks as I headed back to my office, where I found the three girls still in their chairs, but there were two of our office staff standing outside it, looking concerned. 

They explained that there had been so much screaming coming from my office that they had become concerned, and went to see what new atrocity TSB was inflicting on the students, but just saw three hysterical girls clinging to each other and screaming their heads off.

I settled the girls down and sent them home and I could see them walking away, still holding onto each other.  It's strange to see how major events tend to put the minutiae of life in perspective.  Silly girls.

It was the next week, as I was starting to introduce my advanced computing class into the intricacies of writing code in a relational database form to perform calculations that one of the boys said:

"You were cool when the earthquake was on Mistah"


"We saw you on the courts Mistah when the quake hit"

"Oh yes, but why is that cool?"

"You had a great big grin on your face Mistah, and you were surfing the quake"  "It looked real cool"

I could have explained that the reason it looked like I was surfing the quake, was purely me moving into a posture of maximum stability, with my hands out for balance.

I could have explained that the "big grin" was more of a rictus of terror.

I could have said I wasn't cool.

I didn't.

I just smiled and shrugged deprecatingly and said "Yeah"

I can imagine the stories as they grow over the years.  Mistah TSB, the Richter Surfer.

It was cool.
I is a cool dude.

PS The three girls were back in my office again last week, with some more crap about she said, he said, it's on facebook so it must be true, I hate her, I wish she was dead etc.

I wonder if I could arrange for another earthquake?

I wonder if I could arrange another earthquake and get ALL our problem girls together?

Ah well, a man can dream.


  1. It is always good when the tragedies turn out to be minor ones.

    1. True, Laoch, true. Sometimes I would even strain to call them tragedies though. Mostly it's just the usual teenage bitchiness. Gives me a bit of a laugh. maybe I should call back Auntie Twisted to redo her problem page.

  2. Blimey life in your school sounds a lot more interesting than life in my school was.

    1. Ah, interesting is sometimes a bit of an understatement. It can vary between mind-numbingly boring and "Dear God, did you see tha..."

  3. I live in Los Angeles where we have earthquakes all the time--guns in schools, not quite as often!!

    1. I'd forgotten that LA gets the shakes as well. From all the reports we see, I'd have thought that many schools in the US would have armed guards roaming the corriors.

      I've always fancied doing my duty rounds with a 7.62 Gatling.

  4. A - the joys of teenage girls. The story. Not that last photo obviously. {maybe}

    1. Do I detect a little confusion Alistair? I would recdommend NOT looking too long at the last photo. I just stuck it in to maintain the traditional feel of m'blog.

      Sometimes I feel that a quick smack on their derrieres is just what they need.

      Then I go for a cold shower.

  5. You would have like being a teacher in my day at high school TSB, especially when we had swimming sports day at the now long gone Maidstone Outdoor Pools (where the new adventure park Maidstone Max is now). 90% of all the girls who were participating in the races wore skimpy bikinis. (As photo in my old school magazines will attest!) Yes and that even included me when I had a more maidenly figure! No wonder all the male teachers had ear to ear grins at those events. The school doesn't have swimming sports anymore. I wonder why? Anything to do with the female principal
    I wonder? Must ask my male colleagues about how they would feel about this old school tradition being resurrected?

    1. Too much temptation VG. I know my limits, and amongst a crowd of wet nubile girls in bikinis is WAY beyond my comfort zone.

      I do enjoy my job, and getting my face in the Dom Post for ogling female students is not a good look.

      It didn't do Brian a lot of good, did it?

    2. Yes true. Hold your head high TSB. I would never classify you in the same category of those creepy male teachers we had back in the mid 1970's. Yep Brian has been struck off now, his career is over with teaching. Wonder what he is doing now? What worries me is all pervs that are still out there working in schools, under the radar, like your anecdote about the Scottish reliever.

    3. There's probably lots. In my ten years at NLHS, I know of at least 4 teachers (male) and two teachers (female) who should have been struck off for sexual misconduct, but they dodged the bullet and just left instead.

    4. You should view the NZTC website. They upgraded it yesterday and it has some interesting video clips about the what the Conduct and Competence Teams do there. I found this quite interesting in light of your recent experiences at NLHS. That can be your PLD assignment for today Mr TSB. I would advice any
      teacher in a SMT position especially to take a look at this information. I think the problem is a lot of cases are going unreported, which is very bad.

    5. I'm not too sure I should examine this too closely, otherwise I might end up reporting myself.

      For goodness sake, don't mention m'blog to them.

    6. What happens in the blog stays in the blog. For goodness sake we have to vent somehow. However, with this new government spy bill that has just passed you never know who is watching or reading your blog now TSB. Big Brother is watching us.

    7. I laugh in the face of spies.


      What really worries me is why Google periodically demands that I use my real name.

      Over my dead and smoking body.

      Sorry, got to go and invigilate a 2 hour exam now. AND I'm the only Dp in the school.



  6. There was no earthquake today, that was over a week ago TSB. Remember how we went to the marae, but you buggered off before the group hug and prayer at the end?

    1. I never said the quake was today Richard. Where's your sense of dramatic time-shifting?

      Anyway, I was too ill to last long at the Marae, and left to hover around the toilets at NLHS for a couple of hours.

      Did you enjoy your group hug?
      Was the Bra useful?
      Did you pray?

    2. Sorry to hear you're not well TSB.
      I don't do group hugs well.
      The bra is with Aunty now.
      When they did the song at the end, I felt I'd better move my lips so that I wouldn't be singled out. I sang, "Where is TSB? I can't see TSB. I think he's buggered off."
      The lyrics seemed to fit the song well.

    3. I should be back in Tuesday, and I agree, I also don't do group hugs well. Sorry I missed the song. Did anyone mention the old traditional Maori penchant for eating pakeha?

  7. Did you find the pupil with a gun or did the earthquake sort him out? I hope the kids are never disillusioned about your enjoyment of earthquakes. When the next quake comes you could lie on the ground and let it give you a massage.

    1. The pupil with the gun actually turned up at the Principal's office to hand it over for destruction.

      Good idea about the massage, but seeing as NLHS is built on a reclaimed swamp, a prolonged quake may result in all of us learning to swim in mud.

      Mind you, seeing that Nuova Lazio is surrounded by dense bush and forest, you'd probably feel right at home over here.

  8. I guess an earthquake can come in handy once in a while. I did see headlines about strong earthquakes in NZ. I'm glad nobody was hurt at your school.

    1. It wasn't really that frightening, although if it had gone on for another 30 seconds, it could have been.

  9. I should appreciate living in shitty little Scotland more where quakes are rare. School administration corridors are always heavin' with asbo wannabees, but no need for surfing lessons.

    1. Scotland is NOT shitty. A bit on the crappy side perhaps, but definitely not shitty.

      We're a bit more carefree over here in the land of the Long White Cloud, and we don't have ASBOs.

      We have Māoris instead.

      The first 30 or 40 quakes are a bit frightening, but then you get used to it.

      I'm looking forward to my first volcano.

  10. Have you and Silver Surfer ever been seen together at the same time? You must be more careful with your secret identity. I sure am (Rao, how I miss Krypton!).

    1. Damn, discovered again. Just look out for a black hole in your chicken coop Geo.

      But being a bit super yourself, you probably already know that.

  11. The final PS is hilarious!!! facebook she said said she said, I have to say again! Does anyone at your school read this blog?

    1. Thank you KiwiKate. I think facebook is an abomination before good sense and decorum.

      I don't have an account, and live in blissful ignorance about what the little darlings say about me.

      There are a select few teachers who pop n occasionally, but I do live with a frisson of fear that some bloody pupil has a look.

      Or the Principal come to that.

      Heaven forfend the NZTC ever finds it.

  12. Replies
    1. What?

      Is this some strange expression of self-realisation, a scream against the eternal ennui of an uncaring universe with a lost and forlorn destiny at the end of it all?

      Or did you just forget to click the Reply link?

    2. You're getting me confused.

      And after today, I really don't need that.

  13. I think having a uniform policy is a fantastic idea. The great equalizer. The public schools here in the U.S. should adopt it but it'll never happen.

    What do you mean "only" :30 seconds!? That a bloody long time when the world is shifting plates. What fun!

    1. The only problem with a Uniform Policy TUB, is the distinct lack of uniformity.

      I spend about 25% of my time chasing up kids in wrong shoes/trousers/hats, with a huge number of tie-refusing communists.

      You are correct, 30 seconds did feel a bit long.

      Fun though.

  14. Well played on not denying your rugged years-of-experience I've-seen-far-worse-than-this look as you rode the tectonic plates. Your "rep" (as I believe the young hip cats of today's go-ahead yoof say) will be going up daily.

    Girls are such good psychologists. Shame they go through a phase where all they do with that knowledge is have catfights with each other. It can very hurtful though--I'm glad two thirds of my daughters aren't interested in F---k. (That's a social media site, not a reference to rumpy-pumpy. Far too early for the latter).

    1. Sorry---also meant to add that we have pathetic earthquakes here. Yesterday no less, there was a might 3.3er with its epicentre off Blackpool. If it had been ten times as strong, with an epicentre ON Blackpool, I might have started believing in a benevolent God.

    2. Thanks looby, I try to maintain an air of devilish wild abandon for the students, but really, like most blokes, I'm silently screaming inside. Actually what I'm screaming is going to remain very confidential.

      Girls are good psychologists, as they can demonstrate when they effortlessly tie-up blokes all over the world into self-loathing lumps of existential angst.

      Keep a careful eye on your girls, they are starting earlier and earlier.

    3. Gosh!

      A 3.3.

      What's wrong with Blackpool?

      Eating fish and chips while strolling along the promenade in the teeth of a Force 9 gale is traditional.

    4. As Bill Bryson said "The Council have spend half a million pounds on cleaning up Blackpool. Now, the turds sparkle."

    5. Bryson was probably quite accurate, although that particular task would have been difficult to achieve.

      I wonder if they used Brasso?

  15. Not relevant but...

    Watched the BBC coverage of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo last night and on came the Lochiel Marching Drill team...

    Flipping heck! You have competitions with these girls parading about like this! You chose your country wisely ...

    1. Yes, it is a lovely country, and seeing all these lithe and nubile maidens prancing about in their micro-tartan-miniskirts does an old man's heart proud.

      Amongst other things.

      For some reason, these marching teams are becoming less popular. I blame the teachers. (Well why not, we get blamed for every other f*cking thing)

  16. A little common sense goes a long way. As does looking cool during an earthquake.

    (I've added you to my blogroll. You amuse me. :-))


    1. Thank you and welcome again Pearl. You certainly exhibit the same attribute (common snese I mean) on your own delightful blog. You comments on HR were very apposite.

      What really annoys me is that it took 60 bl**dy years to aquire coolness and now I don't really care. Maybe that's what coolness is.

      I'm glad I can amuse; it's my main purpose in life.

  17. Replies
    1. Morning Richard. Enjoying the bl**dy exams?

    2. Morning TSB, yes great fun. I love those nomadic tribesmen who keep popping into my room.

    3. Nomadic tribesmen?

      Have you been on the Chardon again?

    4. I don't get a Chardon as much these days.

  18. 'Then the students began to queue up outside.' followed by that picture was very funny indeed, had I been drinking Coffee.... know.

    1. I try.

      Sometimes position is all.

      Just ask Mr K Sutra.

    2. for the Wave Riding thing. Milk it for all it's worth. Build a mysterious surfer persona that keeps the inbreds guessing and wondering...

    3. I intend to keep a strange and mysterious aura around me at all times.

      On which inbreds on the staff do you refer?

  19. Quite the life you lead Twisted. I'm sure I'm be a total flop in your profession and am grateful I never tried. Hope your week gets better. Arnica cream - thanks for the tip.

    1. I'm sure it's not as exciting as the life of an airline hostess with a bad back.
      I'm also sure that I'd be a complete flop in your chosen profession. I never could do the proper knees bend, smile on face "Coffee or Tea Sir?"

      Mind you, dealing with your troublesome First Class passengers and my Year 9s (12 year olds) is probably similar.

      Arnica worked for me when I developed a goose-egg after a dive into an unsuspected shallow pool.

  20. Good anecdote, TSB. Let the kids think you’re cool and let the story grow to epic proportions.

    The only thing I’ve ever surfed is a strong wave of disapproval.

    1. Thank you Steve, I agree. I intend to maintain the stoic aura, and just let the legend build. Mind you, there may well be a counter-rumour about my posture on the courts, and it may contain a reference to "Farmer Giles" as the reason for the posture.

      I swim in a wave of disapproval every day.

      It becomes quite refreshing after a while.


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