Tag Archives: schools

2292. The Reverend Sister’s drink

A note before today’s story…! Two friends of this blog have recently had books published, and I wanted to give them a bit of airtime by way of appreciation. As some of you know, I’m sometimes inclined to be wayward, so if something such as this calls for it to be done alphabetically I do it backwards! Hence, in this case, Iseult Murphy’s book shall be spoken of before Sarah Angleton’s!

Iseult Murphy is a prolific reader who reviews books galore on her blog. She occasionally deviates from her speciality, which is horror, fantasy, and science fiction, to review something more benign – and she recently review my short book called My Neck of the Woods. Thank you Iseult! But it is her own book I wish to promote. It is called The Mountains of Sorrow and you can read about it and other books reviewed by her HERE.

Sarah Angleton on most Fridays posts a history-based essay, often on a quirky theme – and in an entertaining fashion. Her new novel, White Man’s Graveyard  is an extraordinary well-researched historical novel. Here is a copy of my review of it on Goodreads:

Sarah Angleton’s historical novel, White Man’s Graveyard, appears on the literary scene at exactly the right time in history. Set in the eighteen hundreds mainly in Philadelphia and Liberia it chronicles the tensions between slavery, slavery abolition, and African colonization. We see it through the eyes principally of Annie Goheen and her brother Sylvanus Goheen. History comes alive! One gets an insight into the pressures of those tumultuous times. But even better than that perhaps, we are given a jolly good yarn studded with fascinating people. I laughed and I cried and I wondered. If you are an avid reader, and keen to gain insight into racial stresses in the past and in today’s world, you’d be nuts not to read this wonderful, and extraordinary well-researched, novel.

More about this novel can be read HERE.

And now for today’s story! –  Story 2292: The Reverend Sister’s drink

The Reverend Sister Mary Imelda received a phone call from Mother Superior. Would she come to visit her next Thursday at two o’clock? There was an important matter to discuss.

Sister Mary Imelda belonged to a group of nuns called the Sisters of Holy Charity. They ran huge secondary schools throughout the country and with a great deal of academic and sporting success. Their largest school, Saint Philomena’s, had over three thousand pupils.

Sister Mary Imelda didn’t have an alcohol problem but she did enjoy a little wine before dinner. Occasionally, such as on a feast day, she enjoyed a second glass. She knew that Mother Superior wanted to see her about that. “I hear, Sister, that you have a little problem with the drink.”

Sister Mary Imelda rehearsed her response. She would admit it humbly and with gratitude. Yes, she would stop having a little stipple before dinner. Yes, she had a problem but she was sure she could overcome it with prayer and fasting. Abstinence was virtuous. In fact, the season of Lent was coming up and she could start by giving up wine for Lent. Thank you so much Mother for steering me in the right direction.

The moment had arrived. She was ushered into Mother Superior’s office. “I have an important thing to discuss with you, Sister,” said Mother Superior.

Sister Mary Imelda was thinking this was it, there’s no escape, stay humble, admit your problem even though it isn’t a problem.

“I am appointing you,” said Mother Superior, “to be the head mistress of Saint Philomena’s.”

1550. Where angels fear to tread

In the “old days” – like a year or so ago – when I was new to blogging, I would excitedly celebrate each 50 stories with a glimmer of revelation into my REAL life. It could be a wander through my garden for example, or a posting about the cat. Once I even endeavoured to show photos of my crockery! Today is Story 1550, and since old habits die hard, I thought I would tell of a particular event.

About forty years ago, when I had a ponytail and torn jeans (because I thought it was cool), and went around in bare feet (because I thought it was cool and you can still do that in New Zealand), I earned just enough to live on by writing to every primary school in the country and announcing that I had a brand-new short children’s musical they could use at their end-of-school-year celebration/event. It was not copyrighted. It was a photocopy. Teachers could make as many copies as they wished and change what they wanted. The only thing they couldn’t do was pass the manuscript on to another school. Each musical cost a mere ten dollars. It came with a tape.

At the time there were roughly two and a half thousand primary schools in the country. Although the letter itself was photocopied, I signed each one personally, and then addressed each envelope by hand and licked each individual postage stamp. Getting a hand addressed envelope with a postage stamp on it was more likely to be opened and noticed than getting a printed envelope with “POSTAGE PAID” slapped coldly in the corner. About 70% of the schools purchased and used these musicals. Towards the end of the school year I could grab any local paper in the country and there would be a photograph or two of the local school rehearsing or performing MY musical!

I did this for about ten years. Many schools used a different musical for each of the ten years. Then other people cottoned on to the idea. Suddenly there were about twenty other writers. They ran seminars on it! Teacher Resource Centres started advertising their own home-written end-of-school-year musicals. I was shut out, usually by cunning and corrupt Resource Centres pretending they wanted to do the advertising for me. My little empire collapsed and died. The last gasp was when a publishing company in America wrote and said they were suing me for pinching their title and idea for a musical. I explained that my musical was quite a few years older than theirs. I had written it years ago for a school of eight pupils and no electricity on Pitt Island to perform in candle light!

So where is Pitt Island?

At the height of such commercial success (one year I made around $14,000 – think about it) I thought I needed a logo! I began to knock on a few doors. There were Graphic Designers galore in the telephone books. The first Graphic Designer was down a dark alley. It had a doorbell. I pressed it. An inside contraption played Für Elise, rather like the electronic music one hears on a phone when put on hold. I fled.

The second Graphic Designer was in a large messy attic. Two women were sitting in armchairs sipping coffee. They stood and excitedly exclaimed: “Oh God! We have our first customer!” I told them I was sorry to disappoint, but I was looking for directions!

This went on all day. I had about two hundred dollars to spend on my logo. I didn’t want riff-raff ruining the opportunity.

It was then, near the centre of town, that I espied a Graphic Designer with a decent billboard and signage, in a rather nice skyscraper. I went in and explained that I wanted a logo for “MUSICALS FOR SCHOOLS”.

I was ushered into a luxurious reception room. My ponytail, torn jeans, and bare feet felt a little out of place. On the coffee table was a brochure advertising logos they had designed. Here was the header for a resort hotel’s restaurant menu that had cost a mere $94,000. Here was a logo for a hotel chain that a President of the United States had stayed at while playing golf. A mere $140,000 had been paid for the logo. The logos were certainly attractive but I thought “I gotta get the hell outta here!”

A woman suddenly appeared. She was smartly dressed and meant business. “How may I help?”

I splurted out about the Für Elise doorbell and the “Oh God! We have our first customer!” She laughed. “And now, here I am in a place that’s thousands of times out of my league. And all I wanted was a simple logo for my MUSICALS FOR SCHOOLS.”

Well, would you believe? The woman wasn’t the receptionist or the undersecretary’s secretary. She owned the company. It was a multinational company. It was the largest company of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. I explained how silly I felt.

“You give me $50,” said the woman, “and I’ll tell you what we’ll do. I’ll run a competition this week among all the company’s graphic designers. For a bonus of $50, a winner will be selected for the best logo submitted for MUSICALS FOR SCHOOLS. Come back in a week and we’ll make the selection.”

I came back in a week. She had dozens of designs. Can I take the lot? No! You must pick one. I picked one. “That’s the very one I would’ve picked,” she said. I was given copies of the logo in all sizes and colours. There must have been several hundred lasered variations.

A few months later I bumped into that lady in the street. She asked me how things were going. She was enthusiastic about MUSICALS FOR SCHOOLS. I couldn’t shut her up! She was off to buy something to congratulate the grandchildren. They were in an end-of-school-year production and she was so excited. Would I mind if the school used the logo on the program?

And that is how I got a $140,000 logo for a few bucks.

1064. To change a lightbulb

Barney was just about to leave home for work when a lightbulb went pop. It was on his front porch, and since he would get home in the dark (it was winter) he grabbed a bulb from the cupboard and changed it.

He arrived at work (he was a school librarian). Upon arrival, just as he switched on his office light, the lightbulb went pop. What a lightbulb-popping day!

Barney went to see Dave, the school caretaker. Dave said that Barney would have to fill out an order form. The order form book was in the school office, but Sharon the secretary hadn’t arrived yet.

Thirty minutes later, when Sharon arrived, Barney filled out the order form. Sharon said it required the school principal’s signature but she was in a meeting at present. “Just leave it with me,” said Sharon helpfully, “and I’ll get her to sign it once the meeting’s finished.”

Two hours later, and still in a dark office, Sharon phoned to announce to Barney the conclusion of the principal’s meeting. All was signed!

Barney took the order form to Dave, and Dave said he was out of lightbulbs but would order some in. Dave went to see Sharon in the office to get an order form, but she was out to lunch. After lunch, Dave got a signed order form for a box of lightbulbs. Was anyone going into town so they could be picked up immediately, or should they be couriered out?

Robyn, the Head of English, said she wanted to go into town and she could pick them up. But was she going to get a travel allowance because she was using her own car and chewing up her own gas? Sharon said that if Robyn filled out the appropriate form and included an estimation of the distance then a travel allowance could be considered.

The next day the light bulbs still hadn’t arrived because the school Finance Committee met only on Thursdays and they had to approve all teachers’ travel allowances. Barney said he’d go into town on his own pocket and pick up the box of lightbulbs, but he was informed that it was school policy not to allow staff to pay for things themselves.

A week later, Barney was still in the dark and hadn’t done any work, but progress had been made. He had stealthily transported a lightbulb in his briefcase right into his office. He needed a ladder, so he went to see Dave. Dave wasn’t there, so Barney simply took the ladder from the shed.

Would you believe? Just as Barney was up four steps of the ladder, Amanda entered Barney’s office. Amanda was the school union representative. Indeed, she said, it’s alright to change your own lightbulb, but it is against health and safety regulations to be more than two steps up a ladder. You could fall down and do an injury. The school would then have to fork out untold money in compensation. And anyway, what was he doing with one of those lightbulbs that were no longer regarded as ecologically friendly?

Listen, dear reader! Something wonderful has happened! It’s been seven months now without the lightbulb, but the principal has promised it will be done by next Wednesday. Provided of course that…