Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sense? it doesn't make sense!

The other day I hear that Alyn Davies has died.
And yesterday a tree falls on the brother of a friend of mine. He’s still alive but hurt bad. He’s working in the garden, apparently, when the Grim Reaper decides to have a crack at him. It was a near miss but his future won’t be very clear until he graduates from intensive care. And there’s people out there who think there’s some sort of sense or meaning to life: Intelligent Design.
Alyn Davies was, for some years, the Principal of the college where I trained as a teacher. He was a brilliant man and created a place that nurtured students like Ken Robinson, John Godber, the complete cast of The League of Gentlemen and others who have changed the face of the country. It was a lovely place, a mansion set in a Capability Brown landscape complete with a bridge, little bits of brickwork and a couple of lakes. I sailed Enterprises, Mirrors and Fennecs on those lakes. I capsized one day and the future mother of my children rescued me in a little orange, plastic rowboat. It was a beautiful day.
Whether or not stoned, the students were a creative bunch.
The Head of Education was a tall German guy with oiled black hair. He would flatten it with a characteristic sweep of his right hand across his head.
In our third year, Alyn Davies, in an attempt both to run and not run exams, devised an interesting permutation. The exam paper was dished out at 0900am but the actual exam didn’t take place until 1500pm. We were allowed to research our answer all day and take one piece of paper into the exam room. I guess the research period was designed to let us get our citations right.
We were a creative lot, though, so we planned a wheeze. We formed a committee and divided responsibilities. The smartest bloke in the College agreed to write a model answer. Others organised duplication facilities, checked citations and made coffee. A couple of people stood by the entrance to the exam room, dishing out copies of the modal answer. A lot of people used the model answer. The exam was torpedoed. Intelligent Demonstration.
The following day I happened to be alone in the same room as the German guy. He smoothed his hair down and said to me, his accent light, ‘Why? Why did you do it?’
He knew, I’m sure, that we were young, immortal, intent. We would do anything that we could do. So we did. What difference it made to anyone or anything is one of those mysteries that hide in the mists of history. It was fun at the time, though.
What difference a falling tree makes when toppled by the idiot English climate on to an unlucky gardener is an immediate and terrible mystery.

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