These are, indeed, unprecedented times.
Jonathan M Lewis, local head teacher
These are, indeed, unprecedented times. Not just for staff, but for the parents, pupils and the Garioch Academy community as a whole. Mind you, there have been some benefits – it’s now a month since I’ve had to endure a parent calling me to complain about something, because I’ve unplugged the phone.
And in the absence of our young learners, the school becomes a tranquil temple to learning – I do love peace and quiet, almost as much as the people of Elgin love a Whopper. And it’s amazing how restorative it can be just to have a few weeks when none of the school buildings are set alight.
The jungle drums are starting to beat, however. The prime minister’s recent comments have sparked talk among those sharing a socially distant garden cuppa in our catchment area, of pupils returning to school, complete with face masks and disposable gloves.
I have it on good authority that chief among those conversations is the frankly baseless assertion that I will, in some manner or other, manage to cock it up.
Let me reassure one and all, that nothing could be further from the truth! We at Garioch have left no stop unpulled-out in our quest to prepare for the new normal. The technical department have been hard at work crafting 2m “learner cubes” (using an old “O” Grade blueprint for a dog kennel) for use in our classrooms.
Then we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that our new one-way corridor system is fit for purpose – at great personal cost, I might add, as the 10m stroll from my office to the staff room will now be a full circuit of the school, including the playing fields.
I did wonder if we might simply make it go the other way, but my colleagues assure me that’s impossible for all manner of complex logistical reasons. So they’ll just have to have their break-time coffee and Garibaldis without me, while I enjoy an invigorating 30-minute walk. We each have our crosses to bear.
But the denouement of our preparations came about when Garioch Academy was able to procure a set of the swirling brushes from the now mothballed Morrison’s car wash. Pupils, staff and visitors alike will thus be cleaned thoroughly when they arrive at the main door – though, early trial runs of the brushes suggest that spectacle-wearers might need to use the side entrance. As will anyone whose skin is sensitive to colour foam, hot wax or tyre dressing.
Doddie Esslemont, radical independence campaigner
This year has been a pivotal one for we, the People’s Democratic Republic of 39G Seaton Drive.
By which I mean myself. I have been embracing the opportunities for separatism that these strange and interesting times have provided. In January, I delivered on my promise to myself to “Get 39gexit done” by leaning out of the kitchen window and alerting the UK Government to my intention to withdraw with a clear and unambiguous cry of “I’m aff, ya big Jessies.” But further divisions have become obvious regarding our very different handling of the coronavirus crisis.
While Bumbly Boris fudges the message with the vague and unhelpful “Stay Alert”, and Nippy Nicola sticks slavishly by “Stay At Home”, I’m winning much praise from myself for my handling of the pandemic (no cases to date – only North Korea is doing as well as us) by distinguishing myself from both of them.
My own slogan, which I have Blu-tacked on the wall of my landing, is clear and science-led: “Stay Away from My Door, Unless You’re Delivering Pizza”. This is how we will protect our NHS, which currently comprises a frontline of Panadol, breathable plasters and a tube of Clotrimazole that passed its sell-by date under the previous administration (also myself).
Accordingly, the borders of 39G Seaton Drive are closed until further notice during the pandemic, unlike the UK’s airports, where folk are still streaming in.
Which begs the question: Why on Earth would anyone want to come to the UK now? As one of the worst-hit nations on Earth, you’d think it was pretty unattractive to visitors. I’ve achieved a similar effect for 39G Seaton Drive by throwing out all my carpets and only cleaning my cludge when it’s a leap year.
Furthermore, the great state of 39G Seaton Drive is rigorously enforcing the lockdown. I’ve secured the snib on the front door with a padlock and the keys have been swallowed by my cat, Robert The Puss, so the border is secure and we are rigorously abiding by the instruction to stay indoors. Easy to achieve as the only way out is now through a fourth floor window.
As something of a pioneer of social distancing, I’m looking forward to the so-called new normal, if it means a world in which everyone else keeps at least two metres away from me and I can avoid all contact with those who do not share my views on independence. The People’s Republic of 39G Seaton Drive is a land of milk and honey – because that’s all I’ve got left in the fridge.