New Libraries and high jump comedy

I spent a very rewarding morning last week at the delightful Marwood Infant School in Great Ayton, the boyhood home of Captain Cook, no less. This was a special occasion for me because I was invited to open the school’s new library. What a pleasure, in this age of library closures, cuts and depression over public spending reductions dismantling the cultural institions of our towns and villages, to actually see somewhere investing in books and a lovely place to read and learn.

I enjoyed making a short speech and cutting the ribbon before spending the rest of the morning telling stories, enthusing about reading and getting the children to perform poems. I also told the small assembly of parents, staff, governors and kids about my last, less successful attempt at opening a school library, in Derbyshire. I was asked to pull the large ribbon bow rather than cut it. Unfortunately, the bow was tied rather too tightly and I only succeeded in pulling down the colourful wall display to which the ribbon was attached. At least it amused the children…

Marwood Infant School: Victorian perfection

The week also saw three Oh-lympics performances, and some amazing leaping from Holy Trinity Juniors in Ripon. As part of the show we set up high jump posts and a bar to the world record heights for men and women (2.45m and 2.09m) to show kids just how towering they are. We then ask teachers to select two children from each age group and we challenge them to touch the bar, set to the men’s record which is, hilariously, a tad over 8 feet.

Up to this point only one child, in Catterick, had won a gold medal by touching the bar but Holy Trinity produced two amazing jumpers who successfully reached it. They also selected a younger lad who was somewhat less successful but nonetheless supplied huge amusement to the audience. Upon his turn to leap he decided to bounce up and down a bit to generate some spring, and also went for a diagonal run up. However, he didn’t account for the base of the post which tripped him up and sent him sprawling to the floor before he’d event taken off. That was funny enough but the final insult came from the bar which, dislodged by his collision with the post, came tumbling down and whacked him squarely on the head.

As you can imagine, the watching 200+ kids in the audience went into spasm with laughter. It’s a good job we invested in a foam-covered ‘health & safety anti-ligitation bar’…

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