Every morning in class, we spend 10 minutes doing handwriting. The children, that is. I am trying to cultivate scruffier handwriting as I always get the 'You know you've got nice handwriting...?' appeals when someone needs 150 certificates writing out. Anyway, a couple of mornings ago, I noticed one child frowning at his work (I couldn't read it either), so I asked him if he was okay. 'I'm a bit worried,' he said. I was about to launch into my 'you just need to keep practising' spiel, when he added '...about World War Three.' Hmm. I had missed the news that morning. Should we actually be at school today? 'Only,' he said, 'we live right next door to Lakenheath, so obviously we're going to die.' A nearby child piped up with 'at least you'd get out of maths,' which was pretty similar to what I was going to say. I do hate it when children steal your best lines. 'I was just wondering what to do when a bomb falls on the school,' continued Morbid Child. I thought back to those useful and informative leaflets that had been handed out during the 80s, but didn't think he'd be convinced when I suggested he close all windows and sit under a table. 'If a bomb fell on the school, you'd definitely die,' said someone, helpfully, 'because all the roof would fall on you.' 'Oh,' said Morbid Child, 'do you think someone would feed my cats?' 'My Mum'll do it. I'll ask her,' Helpful Girl offered. And so the conversation turned to pets, and that's why we got very little handwriting done that morning.
I did sympathise with Morbid Child's worries. I can remember being about 12 years old and sitting with my back to the television as the newscasters told us how close to a nuclear war we were. I know I silently cried into the book I was pretending to read because, if there was going to be a war, my guinea-pigs would die. I knew we humans would be fine, because we had a strong dining-room table, but what about the pets? I remember my friends and I getting all righteous about the appalling attitudes our parents had to our animals. 'When I asked about my rabbits,' one friend told me, 'my dad said we'd probably have to eat them.' Another friend said she was going to write to Margaret Thatcher and order her to make gas masks for horses.
And while I'm writing this, Son Number One has just come in to ask how long it should take to run three miles. Well, if it was me, I'd have to do it in stages, so maybe a couple of days? And only if there were pubs at regular intervals. And the promise of steak and chips at the end. He tells me he's thinking of joining the RAF reserves. The Husband was in the Territorial Army for 12 years, so he can't really object, and I passed the selection tests for the RAF, but they didn't have jobs available for cartographers, which was what I wanted to do. (I chose the RAF because I felt it was classier, and their uniform was nicer than the Army's. Yes, I did used to be a total idiot.)
So if World War Three could not happen just yet, I'd be most grateful.