The Education column with Dennis Richards

Is it just me? Or are there a lot of us “hanging on in there” at the moment? Schools normally see a lot of absence at this time of year, but this year does seem exceptional.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 3:00 pm
Dennis Richards.

Teachers are on their knees. The school production is always a pressure, even more so when half the cast is either coughing up or throwing up.

Not nice. Is the run up to Christmas different this year?

Is it a national thing?

People can now walk across The Stray again.

I didn’t quite understand at first why choosing a December date for the election gave rise to so much controversy.

I do now. It is winter after all.

Or perhaps it’s an age thing. Passing of the years. Barry Cryer doesn’t like getting old. “I was 83 a couple of weeks ago,” he says, “The candles cost more than the cake and two people fainted from the heat”.

Apparently the Queen has her own special reasons for dreading Christmas this year. Half of Harrogate knows how she feels.

It’s definitely been a weather thing.

Any day when it has not actually rained in the past two months, has us all rejoicing.

There is a palpable, collective Harrogate sigh of relief, as we start to be able to walk across the Stray again.

I am told that the Stray, and especially the West Park Stray, has been very badly waterlogged before. And on these previous occasions…. nothing to do with cycling or fan zones.

But, nevertheless, waterlogged to such an extent that, opposite where Weetons now stands, some jokers created a spoof Loch Ness Monster, made of old tyres, rising out of a gigantic puddle.

I would love that to be true. Just for a smile to make us feel better about our much-loved and injured Stray.

Perhaps it’s just the time of year.

At the first signs of a streaming cold last week, I am told a hundred times or more that “there’s a lot of it about”.

There most definitely is.

On my fleeting visits into town there seemed to be a helluva lot more of us in the chemist’s than in the gizmo, games or clothes discount stores.

A whole gaggle of us are gathered in front of a wide variety of expectorants, decongestants, and pastilles. Is my cough dry, tickly or chesty?

I share a nostalgic moment with another old-timer. I pretend to look for the Musterole. Dad used to swear by it.

I knew it wouldn’t be there. Banned years ago. A chest rub, not so much to put to put hairs on your chest as to set fire to them. And if it was a muscle strain of any kind, out came the Fiery Jack.

Get that anywhere near a sensitive extremity and you would certainly be washing your hands next time.

I don’t wish to depress you further, but the news on the schools front isn’t that great either.

We recruited just 43% of the required number of physics teachers this year.

And that’s with a thumping big bursary welcome and a relaxation of the standard interview questions for physics.

“What letter does the subject begin with?”

Answer “P” and you will get the job. And the latest DFE election winner proposal?

No notice inspections.

That should do the trick.

Just got the little blighters into their seats, when some guy in a sharp suit with a clip board moseys on in, hails everyone with a cheery “Surprise surprise!” and finds himself bombarded with paper aeroplanes. “Tell him we’re doing a physics experiment, Sir!” Thanks kids.

That should impress him.

Things can only get better.