Mr B is being pampered in the bath at Guild Care so I take some time to chat to the lovely staff loitering with intent (I presume) in Oscar’s café. They are keen to examine the dozens of children’s
portraits displayed on my shopping bag.
If you are a parent or grandparent of a school-age child, you probably own something similar yourself. You were doubtless
given it as a birthday / Christmas / Mothering Sunday present. It may be a tea towel, a shopping bag or a useful container for carrier bags - or (in my case) a couple of each - but it will have one thing in common. Printed upon it will be the self portraits
of every child in a school’s Reception class, with their names carefully printed beneath them, presumably for the purposes of more accurate identification. Someone, sometime, hit upon the idea of having these produced as a school fund-raiser and what
a clever idea it was, too. It’s the kind of present that will always be appreciated because what could be sweeter than seeing your own child’s / grandchild’s self-portrait immortalised on a tea towel?
I show Claire and Co at Guild Care the picture of himself which Faris the Rascal has drawn. “What a lovely name!” they all say. I bask in their admiration, for all the world as if I had
anything at all to do with the Naming of the Rascal. They then want to look at all the other pictures, and the names beneath. I say I would really, really like to visit the school, armed with my bag, to see if I can recognise any of the children from their
Look here at one particular lad: is his face really that round and, well, biscuit-shaped? Surely I would be able to pick him out from the crowd?
There are children with long hair, short hair and - apparently - no hair at all. One tot has spiky hair like a hedgehog, another little lass sports a riot of curly locks while one lad has a face like the sun, but with five hairs sprouting determinedly from
the top of his head. There are even portraits of the teachers but I can’t quite work out whether they drew them themselves or asked for volunteers to depict them. The latter course of action would appear to be the more risky but would demonstrate trust,
which is to be valued in a teacher-pupil relationship. Especially in Reception Class.
One significant observation I must make - every child (and every teacher)
is smiling. There are broad grins, secretive smiles, enigmatic twitches at the corner of lips but all are smiling none the less. The overall message seems to be a whole-hearted “We love our School.”
This afternoon I was interviewing applicants for a job with Voluntary Action Worthing, the charitable organisation I am privileged to chair. My lovely friend Eleanor came to keep Mr B company which meant I could concentrate
on the task in hand, rather than worrying if everything was alright at home. (Mr B, it has to be said, was in fine form when I returned home so he obviously enjoyed putting the world to rights with someone other than Yours Truly.)
One of the candidates left us a notebook in which she had detailed her life and times, including a number of inspirational quotes. I took the book home to read it properly and one thought provoking
quote jumped out at me, not least because it summed up so perfectly all those smiling faces on the tea towels, the shopping bags, the plastic bag carriers.
remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everybody else.”
I love it.