Some friends have suggested I put some of my writing that I do for fun on my site. If you like it I will post more.
A Flare for Teaching?
by Bill Peddie
No I am not proud of the memory, but at least sufficient time has elapsed to revisit my moment of embarrassment.
The flying fragments from the unexpected explosion startled the pupils gathered around the demonstration bench and they scattered in confused alarm.
To me, way back then, a student teacher anxious to impress the science department of a leading Christchurch high school, this was no mere accident – from my perspective it was much closer to an unmitigated disaster.
With the wisdom of hindsight, I guess my first mistake had been in assuming that when it comes to practical science, where possible I should use dramatic demonstrations to achieve the required response from the adolescent mind.
A pupil had asked how much energy could be produced in a laboratory scale reaction, and surely here was the perfect challenge for a beginning science teacher. As it happened, having had something of a misspent youth, I already knew the rudiments of fireworks manufacture and, for my chosen demonstration in response to the question, decided on showing the brilliant hot white flare produced when aluminium powder reacts with gunpowder. To achieve at least a modest degree of safety, I decided on placing my incendiary mixture in an open topped tin as a reaction vessel, and for added security, placed the tin on a sand tray. Having gathered the class at the front, I decided that the most theatrical way of igniting the mixture would be to drop in a piece of burning magnesium ribbon.
The demonstration started well. There were “OOs” and “Ahs” as the vivid white flame flared into life. What I should have remembered was that such a reaction is much hotter than the melting point of the tin can and the red glowing bottom of the can rapidly disintegrated as the white hot mixture flowed out onto the thin layer of sand before melting through the metal sand tray to the bench below.
Perhaps I should have been expected to know that the aged asbestos bench top was structured in layers. When heated the joints expand. It doesn’t exactly catch fire but …on the other hand a hot spot can blow up … and it did.
As a stunning and memorable event it may even have been a success. On the other hand as a career advancing move……. all I will say, and for reasons that I prefer not to dwell on, is that I chose not to apply for the assistant teacher’s end of the year science vacancy at Christchurch Boys High School.
A Song for a Retiring Type by Bill Peddie
Bye Bye Workplace
Pack up all me cares and woes
Watch me go on tippy toes
Bye bye work-place
To where my cat does wait for me
Standing by his plate for tea
Bye bye work-place
No-one here did help or understand me
All those late reports they all did hand me
So when they call for me in vain
You’ll hear me laughing like a drain
Work-place bye bye
I’ll chuck out all me big fat files
Sat so long I’m getting piles
Bye bye work-place
Boss is grumpy, Jack still glum
Think I’ll have a little hum
Bye bye workplace
They treat me like a robot paper folder
Just laughed at me while I was growing older
The phone is ringing let it ring
Think I’ll have a little sing
Work-place bye bye
Pack it all, me pen me twink
The copier is on the blink
Bye bye Work-place
Watch me change the passwords now
On Monday I won’t hear them howl
Bye Bye work-place
I’m the only one they had to turn to
All that tricky stuff they’ll have to learn to
All those secrets …thought I’d keep
Read my book ..due out next week!
Work-place bye bye – (repeat) Work-place bye bye!
Winners and Losers
It took me some years to realise that for many people, sport is ritualised warfare, with the team supporters seeing the players as their personal substitute champions sent out to do battle on their behalf. This might for instance explain rampaging soccer crowd hooligans, or even the indignant grandmother who came rushing out from the crowd of vociferous spectators at the Saturday morning under 10 rugby match, to hit my mate on the head with her umbrella because she reckoned as linesman he had no right to step onto the ground to stop her grandson punching an opposing player.
If you want a further example may I tell you about the day the South Auckland high school at which I was teaching, played host for a league game played against the rival high school down the road.
From the first whistle the home crowd became enthusiastic critics and sideline referees. They were frankly abusive to opposition players, and despite the ineffectual cautions from the small handful of staff present, there was much booing, catcalling, and loud insults of a most personal nature.
Since most of the abuse came from a small bunch clustered in one area, when eventually the opposition players had had enough, they suddenly stopped play and ran as a group at their tormentors. Their abusers , seeing these large and obviously furious boys rushing in their direction, turned and fled……. off the ground …. down the drive…. and off down the main road towards the town centre, followed by the entire opposition team The home team tranfixed in slack-jawed wonder … while the referee, clearly dumfounded with widened eyes , stood whistle still in hand as if seeking inspiration from what he could remember from an obviously inadequate book of rules.
So who won? Isn’t it strange that the most memorable games don’t need score sheets.
NOT A NIBBLE by Bill Peddie (readers can guess the tune!!)
Who do you think you’re kidding Mr Neighbour
If you think that fishing’s fun?
Bought myself a boat
With an outboard that won’t start
Lashed me boat to trailer
with a knot that now won’t part
Who do you think you’re kidding Big Shot Neighbour
If you think that fish and me are one
Who do you think you’re kidding Dry-Land sailor
When you think I’m all at sea?
Left the bungs in Auckland
And then forgot the tea
Who you ask does wife now blame?
… always bloody me!
Who do you think you’re kidding Mr Wise guy?
That happy hooking ever was for me.
How can you see me as a Captain Pugwash?
Bobbing leaves me with a wobbly tum
Me line got in a tangle
The hook stuck in me thumb
pitching up and down all day
leaves me pale and glum
Why do you see me wanting to catch tiddlers?
Think I’ll just stretch out here in the sun.