Taking Stock - September 28, 2015

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Never mind the weather – it’s been an Indian summer in the Stocks household this week with three little terrors enjoying an extra week off school.

They have, unfortunately for them, been contageous.

Unfortunately for everyone else it wasn’t the kind of illness which kept them in bed – cabin fever setting in on day two of the enforced absence. By Friday the untapped energy was at bursting point.

The instruction from school has been clear – nobody is allowed back until the itching and scratching has ceased.

That’s a far cry from my old schooldays when death, or a close approximation, was the only excuse for time out of class.

Even then you’d need a note from mother which would undergo the kind of scrutiny which gave away the average form tutor as a frustrated former member of the intelligence services.

I can only remember one day off in my entire school life – which came after our morning bus skidded on a patch of ice, did a delicate pirouette in the middle of a country lane, ploughed through two lamp posts and came to rest in a ditch.

If justifying absence was hard, getting out of PE and games was nearly impossible.

Games teachers were possibly the best example remaining of the press gang spirit which kept the British Navy in fresh recruits through the 18th and 19th century.

Forgetting your kit didn’t get you anywhere – not with a spare pair of yellowing shorts and matching vest.

Of course, you could hope somebody else would try to pull the same trick, but then the PE staff might try to call your bluff with the threat that you could do the lesson in your pants.

The truly daring in the class might attempt to write their own note, only to crack when sir threatened to call mother at work.

I’d like to say it’s life lessons like those which made me the man I am today. But, in truth, they just made me cold, wet and miserable. Well, I suppose to the winning-obsessed games staff, one out of three isn’t bad.