Greg Thomas reminded me of a boy we both taught, Darren Jones. Young Darren got very excited over the fact that he wasn’t yet old enough to vote. He thumped the desk, his voice resounding through the classroom. ‘It’s a disgrace, a disgrace I tell you, an infringement on our human rights. Thirteen year olds should be allowed to vote! We have rights!’ He got more and more excited. Out of curiosity and perhaps to calm him down, Greg asked him who he would vote for if he was given the right. ‘I wouldn’t vote for any one of them. Bunch of crooks, that's what they are.’
We talked of others we remembered: Jack Hobbs who walked the corridors looking morose, sometimes ecstatic, but always puzzled. Occasionally he would leave the classroom to smoke his pipe, and towards the end of his teaching career, if rumors are true, had to guided into his coat and gently pushed out the door by a loving family who understood his reluctance to go. My favorite memory is bumping into him on only the second day of a new school term.
“Don’t you find term’s beginning to drag, Mike? I do.”
We talked of the short-lived but intense Tamagotchi craze, and the mayhem it caused in the classroom as kids who had never fed a dog before became enslaved to their new digital pets. They had to be watered and fed, played with on a regular basis. Failure meant death or starvation in less than half a day. These were not wholesome or healthy pets. These were digital divas and kids found themselves enslaved.
The school responded slowly at first, insisting that each of these egg-shaped monsters had to be handed into the Office at the start of the day. The problem was merely transferred as office staff became embroiled in the digital will to survive.
Typing would be punctuated by urgent but surreptitious sessions of feeding and playing, none of the women willing to confront a tearful child at the end of the day with the news that their pet had been translated into greater glory. In a Catholic school one wondered whether there was a digital heaven and hell, but there was most certainly a digital god. Its name was Tamagotchi and before him all bowed.
This was the school I was soon to leave - a year in America. My ship had come in.