Monday, 9 January 2012

St Fillan Had the Right Idea

Today is St Fillan's Day. 'Tis (or 'twas until 19th century)the day when lunatics were taken to the valley of Strathfillan and immersed in St Fillan's Pool. His bell was then placed on their heads, and they were left tied up in the ruined chapel, where the saint is buried, for the night. And in the morning, those 'patients' who had freed themselves from their bonds were deemed cured of their affliction. Seems a lot simpler than months of expensive cognitive behaviour therapy, doesn't it?

'I'll say,' says Mrs Pumphrey, who has been immersing Mrs Slocombe's head in the water bowl and dinging the dinner time gong in her ear for nearly four years now in an attempt to cure her lunacy.
'I should have used this method today with my sixth form,' I agree. 'Especially as two of them are having trouble reading 'Pride and Prejudice' because apparently it's not 'their cup of tea. And I expressly told them they HAD to read it over Christmas. They are disobedient children, that's what they are.'
Mrs Pumphrey and I are at our weekly Pilates class, and I am wishing I hadn't partaken of chilli bean casserole with a side serving of broccoli and sprouts before I came out. Mrs Pumphrey is exercising her controlled breathing which is just as well as she is still trying to shift the extra couple of pounds that she found located in the region of her thighs just after Christmas and her corset is stretched to its limit.
'If they are having trouble reading a novel,' says Mrs Pumphrey,'why are they doing a Literature course?'
'My point exactly,' I say. 'And when I asked this question I was met with shrugs of the shoulders and rolling eyeballs. I mean, it could be worse. I could be asking them to read 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', or 'Brighton Rock'.'
'Or 'A La Recherche du Temps Perdu',' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Both parts.'
'Yes,' I say. 'It's only 'Pride and Prejudice'for heaven's sake and most of the class have enjoyed it AND read it at least twice more.'
'Which is what one wants from Literature students,' says Mrs P.
'And the excuse to watch the boxed set where Colin Firth emerges from a pond in a clingy shirt, tight pantaloons and riding boots,' I say.
'Did he have a bell on his head?' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'Not that I'm aware,' I say. 'I wasn't really looking at his head.'

We pause for a moment. A spine can be heard creaking and cracking. Not sure if it's mine or Pumphrey's.

'So what are you going to do with the reluctant readers?' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'I don't know,' I say. 'They think they are going to be able to get away with watching the film of the novel. I've told them they will fail their A level if they adopt that approach.'
'Bit harsh, isn't it?' says Mrs P.
'No,' I say. 'I also told Chloe in Year 9 that she was a gob on a stick. I've been telling the truth today.'
'It's a full moon,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Your waters are being pulled in an uncontrollable fashion.'
'I'll say,' I say. 'Either that, or my leotard is too tight.'
'Is your ear still whooshing?' says Mrs P.
'Occasionally,' I say.
'Has someone been surreptitiously dunking you in a pond and attaching a bell to your head?' says Mrs P.
'Probably,' I say. 'But I always escape.'

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