Saturday, 2 July 2011


On Thursday, the deputy head said, 'Fancy a day out tomorrow?' and I said 'Where?' and he said, 'Thorpe Park with the sixth formers,' and I said, 'Okay.'

What he omitted to say was, 'Oh, and several of the less savoury characters from Years 9 and 10, too,' but it was too late because yesterday morning I found myself in the school canteen at 7.50, rucksack on back, counting up the less savoury characters from Years 9 and 10 and reaching a tally of lucky 13.

'Ah well,' I thought, 'could be worse. Could be taking them somewhere educational.'

Anyway, we were supposed to be leaving at 8.30. The coach duly arrived and duly broke down on the school drive. Fan belt, apparently. Calls were made to the coach company, who said they would send out a replacement fan belt. Replacement fan belt arrived about three quarters of an hour later - wrong size. Students mutter a bit, but generally still caught up in the thrill of not having to be in class that day and the opportunity to wear some quite frankly obnoxious looking short 'n' t-shirt combos.

Attempt is made to refit old fan belt. I start having premonitions of getting half way around M25, old fan belt coming off again, and being stuck in sweltering conditions on hard shoulder with 52 students who haven't got food/ drink/ patience because by now, an hour and half after official kick off time, they have eaten and quaffed all their supplies.

At 10.10 we receive news that a replacement coach is on its way and will be with us in twenty minutes. Ten minutes before arrival time, we herd the students outside. They have all of a sudden become very time aware, and every minute past the magic 20 we go, they declare very loudly that the coach is late and where is the coach and we're never going to get to Thorpe Park at this rate and it isn't fair, and will they get their money back and where is the coach?

At 11.00 a cheer goes up! The replacement coach is here!! Except it isn't a coach. It's a double decker bus. Oh, great!

There is a mass scramble for the top deck, which in hindsight proves to be a stupid example of herd mentality because the top deck is roasting and the bottom deck is cool, so hahahahahahahaha!! to those pushy top-deckers!!

The bus driver has no sense of humour and no teeth. He also has no taste in music because we are treated to heavy metal rock ballads player at 100 decibels for the entire hour and half trip. I end up sitting on one of the pull down seats at the front of the bus (students have to be belted in - teachers are left free to be flung around and killed in an accident) so view the journey going sideways. But it is now I make an amazing discovery! Facing this way, I can actually read without feeling travel-sick! I dig out the copy of 'The Great Gatsby' I've brought with me and get a good third of the way through it. Upstairs, someone has a nosebleed, but she's the only casualty of the day.

We arrive at Thorpe Park It is full of school parties.

'Are you going on any of the rides, Miss?' asks one of the girls.
I look at her. 'Are you MAD?????' I say. 'Of course I'm not going on the rides. See this?' I say, stamping the ground with my foot. 'I love this. It is firm and solid and free from danger. Except snakes. But we aren't in Australia so I think I'll be okay.'

Tickets are handed out, the students dash off and that's the last we see of them for the next five hours.

Have you ever tried to spend five hours killing time in a theme park? A noisy theme park? A theme park that pumps out clubbing music everywhere, even outside?? It was constant noise, noise, noise wherever I went. I found a sandwich place for a spot of lunch and read for a bit. Then I thought, right, go for a wander. See what all the fuss is about. Keep taking right turns and you won't get lost. Hopefully.

I saw MASSIVE rides - loud, industrial-strength, scary rides. I saw people climbing on the rides looking anxious/ nervous/terrified. I saw people getting off the rides looking anxious/ nervous/ terrified. And green. I thought, why??

I saw people queueing for over an hour for a ride that lasted 12 seconds. 12 seconds!! I thought, why???

I saw people getting drenched on a massive water ride, then spend another £2 in a hot air booth drying themselves off. I thought, why??? I also thought, maybe I should open a theme park. This is clearly where all the money is being made.

I saw every branch of fast food outlet dotted hither and thither. I saw a traditional fairground with throwing-balls-at-targets-to-win-a-prize games. Except each ball cost £2 a throw. I thought, give me a tenner and I'll make you a soft toy that's a lot classier that the one you might win.

I played, 'Spot the Teacher,' which actually wasn't a difficult game because we were the ones sitting on benches in the shade reading books and grimacing with the noise. We shared a lot of knowing looks and eyes-raised-to-heaven moments, and one or two conversations, which was nice. Well, shouty conversations, because of the noise.

I had an ice cream. Did some more reading. Found three ducks. Looking stunned and hard of hearing. I had a cup of tea. I finished 'The Great Gatsby.'

We told the students to be back at the coach at 5.30. And to give them their due, two thirds of them were back around that time. And by ten to six, we were all present and correct and ready to roll. They were no better educated than when we left in the morning, but they were soggily cheerful, armed with soft toys and tales to tell and all thoughts of the disasterous start to the day forgotten. Maybe they had learned a bit of patience. Hmmmm....

Arrived back at school at 7.45, after another two hours of loud bus music, this time accompanied by screams from girls who played the time-old coach game of waving-to-motorists-and-see-how-many-wave-back.

I arrived home at 8. I felt stunned, a bit sun-burned , a bit tinnitusy but it was an okay day.

And can you hear that? The sound of silence??? Today I can't even bear to put on the radio or washing machine.


Do I really have to tell you?


Yategirl said...

lol! I was on a school trip on friday too.... except it was with 50 reception/year one children at a local play/animal centre. The noise was probably not much difference however!!

Denise said...

I imagine smaller people are more high pitched! Why is it that youngsters have to be soooooo noisy these days? Or is my tolerance level slipping with age??

Hope your trip was good!

Yategirl said...

I am sure that we were not allowed to be as noisy as today's youngsters.... perhaps due to tv/computer games/mp3's on all the time? I relish every moment of peace I get!! lol!