Friday, October 7, 2011

It's been a funny old day

Do you know that feeling, when you can feel a blog post building up and sometimes it seems to need longer to stew? I've been blogging in my head for a few weeks but have not, for whatever reason, reached the 'must blog it' moment. There's been plenty I've wanted to share in terms of crafty doings but I couldn't build up the enthusiasm for another knitterly show and tell.

However, quite unexpectedly, that moment threw itself right at my feet today and all because I went out to work.

I spent a good bit of yesterday preparing a Powerpoint slideshow for a school assembly to 270 children, planned for 11.40am today. I made sure I was all packed and prepared for a 'Session 1' - as my colleagues and I call our first visit to a school (this was planned for straight after lunch with the same school).

Pledge pack?   Check.
Scrapbook? Check.
Photos of landfill site? Check.
Waste audit kit, including attractive elbow length black rubber gloves? Check.
Recycling monitor badges? Check.
Ready inflated Planet Earth  globe? Check.
USB stick with Powerpoint? Check....and double check....five times.

All done. Ready for anything. Especially if it involves brainwashing small children about the 3Rs.

So, I drove to Portsmouth to a very lovely school and was greeted by the Headteacher - this alone should have alerted me, as I'm rarely greeted by a Headteacher or indeed even meet them at any point during my three visits to their school. As I asked if he minded if I finished a little earlier than planned, due to needing to be 20 miles away at Minx's Star of the Week Assembly by 3pm, he breathed a sigh of relief and said 'No that'll be fine - we've got Same Difference coming in for the afternoon and the children will be pretty hyped up....although you might be a little late starting.'

Ok. Whatever. No idea what he was talking about. As long as I do my bit and am out of there in time for Minx's assembly, I'll live to recycle another day.

I was escorted to the school hall, plugged into the interactive whiteboard and within ten minutes was delivering my very exciting Powerpoint to 270 expectant little faces. Heh, you could feel the collective shudder of excitement as I showed them a nice big picture of the inside of the MRF , announced that I'd be visiting this term to do a 'Special Recycling Project' and then showed the photo of other children doing 'exciting recycling activities' with Lesley, the Recycling Lady.

Before I knew it, my performance was done. Technotastic Headteacher had photographed me (on his iPhone) and uploaded me to the school website before I even finished my assembly (!!! - love that...the technology bit not the photograph bit). The children were agog and enthused and sooooo hoping they'd be one of the chosen few picked to work with the Recycling Lady this afternoon and this term.

I was then whisked off to the Staffroom for a cuppa and that's where the day started to get really bizarre. I asked the teacher I was working with 'Who/what is Same Difference?'.

Apparently, they were XFactor finalists in 2007 (here, I've Googled their first audition....snort)! They were coming into school to do an(other) assembly straight after lunch, followed by singing workshops with Years 5 and 6 for the afternoon. The 270 potentially keen recyclers knew nothing of this poptastic surprise. You can imagine the excitement levels in the staffroom as the moment of their arrival neared (and passed....).

Lunchtime over, I was led (again) to the school hall and took my seat in the Royal Box (a weird little bit separated from the main area by a waist height wall) and watched (again) 270 sweet little people file into the hall and sit cross-legged on the doubt wondering why on earth they were having THREE assemblies in one day (they'd already had one first thing this morning - before mine) and had Mr Headteacher gone quite mad???

Then, it happened. Mr Headteacher did a quite fantabulous introduction, asking lots of leading questions along the lines of  'Who's heard of a TV programme called XFactor?' (270 hands shot straight up); 'Who's heard of someone called Simon Cowell?' (270 hands shot up even higher); 'Who'd like to be on a show like XFactor? (about 230 hands shot up, while a few wavered and some stayed firmly down). Mr HT then announced that their school was very very lucky as that very afternoon they were hosts to none other than 'SAME DIFFERENCE - XFACTOR FINALISTS OF 2007!!!!!!'.

The excitement levels then went stratospheric, despite the fact that not a single one of those wonderful 270 children knew who the heck Same Difference were. That's not (just) sour grapes talking (thanks to me getting a much less dramatic assembly introduction) and it's also not a reflection on the very lovely Sean and Sarah (brother and sister duo that makes up Same Difference) but it's a fact that in 2007 at least 135 of those children were three or four years of age and their older peers only five or six.

I then sat there and watched as Sean and Sarah raised the roof, getting every child singing their heart out and you could see the spark of little dreams lighting up in those sweet innocent faces - dreams where one day they too would be standing in front of those judges in Wembley arena, making Louis Walsh cry at the specialness of their performance and knowing that they had that all important 'X'. One little dot with blonde curly hair was right there, giving it her all, doing the whole arm thing as she connected with her audience.

I'm such a cynic about the whole celebrity thing. In fact, I'm a right old Bah Humbug about all that kind of stuff but there was no doubting the power of it as I witnessed those children lose themselves in the wonder of real-life XFactor success right there in their very own school hall, where an hour or so earlier some frumpy old dumpy woman in a long grey cardie  had tried to get them all gee'd up about saving the Earth by being good recyclers.

If I was them I'd choose celebrity and to heck with Planet Earth.

I'm me. I choose Earth (although I'd win XFactor hands down if I entered of course).

I'm pleased to say that despite the competition I did in fact have a very good, albeit slightly short, Session 1 with my 'Team' of apprentice recyclers and made my way back home to Minx's celebration assembly to hear her teacher extoll the many virtues of my brilliant daughter, beaming in the afterglow of my brush with real live 'celebrity'.

All in a day's work.


Did you make it through all that? Sorry it was so long. I needed to get it out of my brain.

Here's some knitting, by way of reward for sticking with me.

Minx in new chunky cardie.

Smoothie hats for this year's Innocent Big Knit.

Augustine scarf that Mrs Stashbasket forced me to knit - in the softest, most buttery wool/cashmere raspberry ripple coloured yarn.

Bloody nightmare Sunshine socks - great pattern, hated the skinny wool, didn't concentrate and have one odd sock 10 rows shorter than the other - to only  be worn inside boots and under jeans. 

Happy weekend xxx