Vol 18 Breakfast club
Back to Texas for this mistake, partly due again to a powers of observation fail and partly due to being overly up myself.
The management of the school where I was teaching had pretty much left me to my own devices until, across the country, the VP’s were sent on a training session which urged them to make much use of us exchange teachers as ‘valuable assets’. My own VP Jim Marsh, an ex-cop, wasted no time lassoing my services.
“I want you to give a talk to the Breakfast Club,” commanded Jim. Not much room for debate then.
“Oh really, what’s that?”
“It’s a group of businessmen who meet for breakfast on the third Monday of each month. We have speakers.” I squeezed my eyes shut, Benny Hill style, to silence a smart response.
“Oh, okay, what do you want me to speak about?”
“I don’t know!” shot Jim, exasperated, “you’re the speaker!”
Luckily, I’d brought some slides of my little home town to show my students by way of a gentle introduction to their weird ‘little English teacher’ (I’ve basked in remembrance of that description long after it failed to apply) and reckoned I’d just take those along and blag it.
The breakfast club enjoyed a swift breakfast of bacon, pancakes, grits (closely akin to toenails) and cornbread (a duplicitously unsweet fairy cake) during which I fended off uncomfortable queries (since I’m unqualified to speak unilaterally on behalf of the UK and if I were, I’d be not a bit nervous of the reception) such as ‘how do the Brits view America’ with such expert sidesteps as ‘oh I think it’s misunderstood’. At last, the talk went reasonably well and it managed to raise a few laughs as well as a few eyebrows in the mix.
All over now, I breathed easier and was thinking about gathering my stuff and getting off to school when the whole breakfast club, in its entirety, turned to face me. Hands on hearts, they began a sombre pledge of allegiance, quite undeserved, I felt, but rather touching. I smiled benignly for a full two minutes basking in the glory before the awful realisation that the flag they were actually pledging to was behind me and I, sharp as ever, never turned.