Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Royal Engagement Trumps 40 Years Of The Sun Page 3 Girl Amongst The Sheep Pooh

It was yet another strange day. The announcement that Prince William was going to marry Kate Middleton to some extent overshadowed the milestone of the 40th Anniversary of The Sun Page 3 Girl. The Sun was unlucky. More often than not, this would have been headline news. I bet they could have throttled Prince William for his poor timing.

Nonetheless there was plenty of comment on BBC Radio Tees. "It's just plain dirty", said one member of the public, referring to the Page 3 girls, not the Royal couple. "It's a classic weapon of mass distraction when you consider the other news about job losses", added another passer by, not sure in his own mind to whom it referred to.

It was 6am when I heard this. Once again venturing over the high hills to pick up a school in Teeside. The snow and the ice had vanished and had been replaced by warmer, strong gale force winds. The school was in another narrow street. Too narrow for coaches that the janitor sent me round to the road on the far side of the playing field.

"Very simple," she said. "Go down to the rugby club, turn around, come back up again and park by the roadworks."

I followed her instructions to the T and arrived at the roadworks, just as the workmen drove up in their van. Two stockily built contractors in hard hats ambled menacingly up to the bus. I feared a bollocking was about to be forthcoming. They leant into the door and said:

"Where are you off to mate? School trip. Oh that's nice. Don't worry about us - you stay as long as you like. It is so cold that we are in no hurry to start work today." They walked back to their van and had an early morning tea break.

The city kids were as streetwise as ever. "I'm feeling sick already" said one as he boarded the bus. "I 'ad a big bacon sandwich for breakfast," added the next boy to board in a loud voice. The other boy turned greener. The teacher was a minimalist when it came to tact.

"Come on boys," she said, "I've brought a brand new bucket with us and I don't want you to fill it up." We all turned green.

Fortunately, the other teacher saved the day. "Now children we are going to play the ABC game. You think of a topic and we go through the alphabet. For example if you choose countries I would say America for A and you might then say Belgium for B." This kept them occupied for most of the journey. They managed to exhaust Football Players, Football Teams, Football Managers, Football Grounds, Football.....Football.....Football......

When there was no more to squeeze out of football, Jack The Lad suggested something new. "I would like the category: People who ain't still here," he said to the other children who took up the challenge with gusto.

"I want E", said one girl. "E for Elvis."

"And I want G", Jack The Lad hurriedly proffered. "G for Jesus"

The game came to an abrupt end as we reached the highest point of the journey and the last of the snow was lying by the side of the road where the snowplough had pushed it a few days ago.

"Look at that," said Jack The Lad. "It's sheep pooh."

"SEAMUS," yelled the teacher,"I'm gonna grab your ankles and dangle you in the river when we get there.

"Are we there, yet?" chorused the girls on the back seat. For once this most hated of phrases on a school bus trip seemed to relieve some of the tension.

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