Monday, 20 January 2014


How not to make mistakes

 volume 5 – sneeze

I suspect that this might be fairly common, so if this has already been one of your mistakes, then my apologies and commiserations, if not, then damn, it’s only me. 

I was eight I think and in Mrs Mercer’s class – English just before playtime.  Jean Arnold had just leaned over and asked how you spell ‘poorly’ - “forget it” she snarled no doubt quickly weighing up my patient (It might have been smug in retrospect) expression, “I’ll put ill.”  Then it happened. 

I sneezed. 
Not a problem you might think but on the general scale, if there is such a thing, it was a very productive sneeze indeed.  On the one hand, success, I had caught it – on the other hand, disaster, what to do with the elastic handsfull.  I glanced surreptitiously round and no-one seemed to be staring so I was able to transfer it all to my right hand fairly easily.  Okay, again a two edged sword, my slimy evacuation was now contained solely in my right hand but I’m right handed and couldn’t continue with my English workbook.  Hair helpfully flopping forward, I put my head down and considered my options as the minutes ticked painfully by … wipe it on Lorraine Addison in front of me (she’d no doubt belt me after) … wipe it on my own velvet dress (worse to encounter she- who- must- be- obeyed at home with slime down her favourite frock) … wipe it under the desk … the least bad of the options but likely to also be the least successful since the wood was hard and the snot was slippy.  Panic was setting in.  It was now twenty minutes since the incident.

Jean Arnold begins to cry at the side of me and it transpires that Jean is upset at her lack of natural spelling ability.  Good a distraction.  The bell goes.  Bingo.  I get up from my desk and sneak a look down at my right hand.  Amazing, it’s disappeared (the snot not the hand), no doubt merging seamlessly with the general sweat, crayon and Nesquik already residing in my pores.  Happy days, and I troll out the classroom with Mrs Mercer’s words trilling in my ears, “Never mind about your spelling, Jean, Wendy’ll never be able to clear the high jump like you.”