The Life of a School Teacher

In doing research on anything historical for my novels, I often come across very interesting and amusing details about our past. As I read another blog post earlier this week, I remembered this morsel I had sitting in my drawer which I picked up at a historical museum. I have seen it in other museums since, but I always love to read it again. I hope you will find it as fascinating as I do.

Rules for teachers 1872

1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, trim wicks and clean chimneys.

2. Each morning teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.

3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they attend church regularly.

5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the bible or any other good books.

6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.

9. The teacher who performs his labour faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five pence per week in his pay, providing the board of education approves.

It seems a male teacher would have to be a regular church goer to get the best opportunity of finding a wife. I never knew going to a public barber shop could give rise to suspicion! And if you were a woman, you clearly had to choose between a career and marriage. How times have changed, and yet our teachers still have a difficult career.

Published in: on 8th July, 2011 at 6:51 am  Comments (4)  
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Silly Seasonitis?

Ever had one of those weeks where everything’s just a bit off? Not functioning on all six or whatever cylinders?

Well, that’s my week. Just can’t seem to focus on anything. Then I find that song from High School Musical running through my mind: “Gotta get your head in the game, gotta get your head in the game.” (And I’m not even a big fan of those movies.) Even my subconscious is trying to tell me something!

Monday night, I completely forgot about a meeting I was supposed to attend. Like, it vacated my brain around lunch time and never entered it again until someone reminded me the next day. I have no reasonable excuse. It was written in my diary and on my whiteboard. I just plain forgot.

I’m supposed to be writing blog posts, editing one manuscript and writing another, but my train of thought won’t sit still. The air-contidioner is too loud. What am I going to speak about on Sunday? I need to sweep the floor. What were the lyrics of that song? When will I do my Christmas shopping? I wonder what is happening in Mrs Such-n-such’s life. An hour of reading Facebook pages and photographs later and zeesh, look at the time! I have to pick up the kids from school.

It seems the only thing I can think about for long enough is why I can’t concentrate on my writing. Is it Silly Seasonitis kicking in? Is it hormonal? Too much chocolate/caffeine? Not enough chocolate/caffeine? Perhaps it’s just too much crowding in on me that my head can’t get a rest.

Whatever it is, I hope it passes quickly! (Any remedies welcome.) 😛

Published in: on 24th November, 2010 at 10:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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Children’s Logic?

Today is my number one-and-only son’s sixth birthday, so I thought I should write about him.

As some of you may know, we’ve been through a rather tough month with my father having major heart surgery. (This is a picture my boy took of Dad and me before the surgery.) He is almost ready to come home now and is looking much like his old self, thanks to a lot of prayer. But, for a while there it was a little hairy.

It was interesting noting my three children’s responses.  The oldest became quiet and sort of retreated within herself a little. The middle child went on with her life the same as always, but talked about her opa when she needed to. Number one-and-only son was obviously under duress, but only showed it by biting another child in the schoolyard. Yikes! He was much relieved to see his opa standing and walking again recently and is looking forward to him attending his party.

The funny thing was, he was very determined to see Opa’s scar. The scar that ran down the middle of his chest. When I first told my little man that Opa had been sitting in a chair one day, his response was “But Mum, remember I have to see his scar!”

“Yes, buddy, I know. But, that scar will be there forever, you have plenty of time to see it.”

“No, Mum! I have to see it while he’s still lying down!”

Amusing as it was, I still don’t understand his thought process. I wonder if I ever will… 🙂

Published in: on 17th November, 2010 at 11:35 am  Comments (1)  
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Blunder Road

Life is an adventure. At least, sometimes I just have to tell myself that in order to remain in a pleasant frame of mind.

Last weekend, my mother and I made a trip to Brisbane. You’d think it would be a simple matter. Catch a plane, hire a car, attend seminars, catch plane home again. But no, it turned out to be more like a comedy of errors in the end.

Firstly there was the missed flight. There was nothing we could do, of course, the matter was completely out of our hands. A truck jack-knifed on the freeway and the police completely shut down said road. We took the first exit, but in spite of our best efforts we were late by five minutes. Thus we spent a whole day sitting in the airport cafe, conversing with each other, and watching TV cameras looking for passenger’s stories for a show. Well, we had one, but we were not brave enough to say so.

Finally we got to Brisbane and hired our car. I chose not to get a GPS as I had printed some maps. Hello! That was not sound judgement at all. We only made three trips where we didn’t get lost. Thankfully, I had my laptop with mobile broadband to get us back on track–but not until we had driven up Blunder Road several times–literally and figuratively.

In spite of our obstacles, we had a wonderful weekend. Now those of you who saw us walk in late every time know why! Feel free to laugh at me. I have learned my lesson. Next time, I will just get the GPS. Although, I did see a roadwork sign that said “Ignore your GPS”…  😛

Published in: on 10th November, 2010 at 7:29 am  Comments (1)  
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Bathtime Silliness

My kids love their baths. Well, two of them anyway. When daughter number two was a baby, she would kick and splash so much in the baby bath, there would be more water on the floor than in the bath by the time we finished washing her. Number one son would practically do the splits trying to get one foot in the bath, he was in such a hurry to get in.

Once they get in, it is very difficult to get them out again. Even if the water goes cold. “You must be a sultana by now!” I say in a shocked voice. They proudly show me their wrinkled fingers and toes.

Even if tea is ready–which is what happened last week. “Time to get out of the bath,” I called number two daughter, “your dinner is on the table.” Five minutes later, she was still splashing around. Ten minutes later, still in there.

I went in there and said “Listen Missy-Moo,” my little pet name for her, “if you don’t get out of this bath by the time I count three, there will be trouble.”

She just grinned at me and splashed around some more.

Then I spied something out of the corner of my eye and got a rather wicked idea. Well, perhaps mischievous is a more accurate term. The kids had left the super-soaker in the bathroom, filled with nice cold water. I picked it up, gave it some pump-action and aimed it at my little girl. “Get out of the bath, now!”

She looked at me a little apprehensively.

“Yes,” I said, “It has cold water in it. Out.”

She gave a nervous giggle, but I can tell you she got out of that bath, quick smart.

I think I might have to use that method again. Although, it may not be so productive in summer.

Do you have an example of creative parenting?

Published in: on 20th October, 2010 at 7:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Tarve Maffrings”

Number one-and-only son, Mr Five-Year-Old, came to me in the kitchen the other night. “Mum. You have to give me tarve maffrings to take to Sunday School next week.”

“Pardon?” I say, not quite understanding.

“Every week, you should give me tarve maffrings for Sunday School.”

Thinking quickly, I figure out what he is on about. “Do you mean tithes and offerings?”

“No!” He laughs at me. “It’s called tarve maffrings.”

“Actually it’s called tithes and offerings.” I say this very slowly and clearly, so he can get the gist. I even got a piece of paper and wrote it down so he could see it (I thought it might help since he’s learning to read quite well).

He looks at the paper and shakes his head. So old and wise is he. “No Mum. Tithes and offerings doesn’t even make sense in a sentence. It’s tarve maffrings.”

I sigh. It amazes me how a five-year-old is convinced he is smarter than a…well, someone quite a bit older than he is. “Ok then, Mr Tarve Maffrings,” I say, “You go and ask your dad what it is.”

He wanders off to the lounge room and my hubby, having vaguely heard the…er…discussion, says, “What are you supposed to ask me?”

“Nothing,” was the reply.

I guess he wasn’t game enough to be told he was wrong twice. He has since, in his wisdom, agreed that it is, indeed, tithes and offerings. 😉

Published in: on 22nd September, 2010 at 8:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Jack & Meg, Part II.

After nibbling on tea cake and cucumber sandwiches and sipping a lovely cup of tea (which I don’t normally drink, but didn’t want to seem impolite) and enjoying trivial conversation, I continued with my interview with the illustrious Jack Fordham and his wife, Meg.

Amanda:  We’ve talked about your family, but how are the extended family?

Both begin to speak at once, but Mr Fordham gives Meg the floor with a generous smile and a flourish of his arm.

Meg:             Brian and Katherine live not too far from here. They have one child – a little girl. (She looks sad momentarily) Their first did not survive, unfortunately. (She brightens again) Brian is still working in the Colonial Secretary’s Office and Katherine still makes clothes in her spare time. She actually sews garments for our children’s’ homes as well. She is very generous like that.

Jack:            I could not have asked for a better sister-in-law. Nor a better brother-in-law, I might add. He was gracious enough to put my past…in the past…and let me change into something better. He would be one of my best friends now.

Amanda:  Wow! I can imagine your appreciation. How are the Sainsburys?

Jack:            Splendid! I have so much to tell. (He shifts to the edge of his seat and leans forward in excitement.) Mary was married last year to an estimable young chap. She travelled back and forth from Parramatta to Sydney during their courtship and often stayed with us. She frequently attended church with us and has now become a believer, along with her beau.

Amanda:  That’s fantastic!

Jack:           Yes, and now Phil and Gwen have become more curious about the faith.

Amanda:  Praise God! I’m sure the change in you has impacted them as well.

Jack:           (Nodding) I believe it has.

Amanda:  What about the other children?

Meg:             PJ is in the midst of his first calf-love. All he can think about is Isabella! (she laughs) William is fast becoming a young man and is still infatuated with the explorers. He even forced his father to take him to meet one in the city. Kitty dreams of babies and a husband one day.

Amanda:  Everything sounds wonderful. Tell me, how are the orphanages going?

Meg:             Exceptionally well! It has been very rewarding.

Jack:           We have seen many of the boys, and now the girls, find their place in society. Some have found employment in the city and others have travelled out to the cattle stations and sheep runs to live and work.

Meg:            We met a lady called Missus Chisholm, a few years ago. She was helping immigrant women find work. Her work was so inspiring, we have supported her vision.

Amanda:  Missus Chisholm? Do you mean Missus Caroline Chisholm?

Jack:           Have you heard of her? She is quite well-known in the colony.

Amanda:  Yes. She’s quite famous in our time. Universities have even been named after her. Her work with the British immigrants was outstanding, particularly with the women.

Meg:             I am not surprised she is famous. I cannot imagine riding a horse out to those stations, escorting women to a domestic situation. She didn’t even have her husband by her side then.  Recently, she went back to England. Her desire is to see the families desiring to emigrate well informed of what they are travelling to. Many have come here and been quite shocked by the experience.

Amanda:  What about you? Have you thought about returning to England?

Jack:           (Glances at Meg with a smile) We are both rather attached to Australia now. At some point, we must by necessity, travel back to England. My father is yet hale and whole, so there is no urgency, although it would be pleasant to visit.

Amanda:  (Hesitantly) How are things between you and your father? Have you cleared the air?

Jack:           (Nods with understanding) I forgave him years ago when I first realised Christ as my Saviour. We have written many letters to one another since. He now understands the truth of what happened in France. He has blessed my marriage to Meg and is eager to see his grand-children. (He looks at Meg and squeezes her hand) Perhaps we should go, my love, before Father grows too old.

Meg:            (Smiling) Perhaps we should.

Jack:           (Looks back at me with a grin) If travel by car is so rapid in your time, I wonder what boats and ships are like.

Amanda:  Well, yes, boats are very fast nowadays. (I cannot help but feel mischievous as I think about my answer) But who wants to go by sea when you can fly?

Published in: on 17th September, 2010 at 12:48 pm  Comments (4)  
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Interview with Jack & Meg, Part I.

I set my time travel machine to 1848 and pulled up in front of a huge Georgian mansion in what is now known as Bondi.

To be ushered into the Fordham’s drawing room by the ever faithful Miller, was an experience in itself. That is, until I saw the grandeur which surrounded me. Such luxurious furnishings and dark oaken furniture, decorative tapestries and velvet curtains—it all said just how much a man of good taste Mr Fordham is.

Unsettled and nervous, I sat gingerly on the chaise lounge and waited, fidgeting with my iPod, until the esteemed couple appeared.

Mr Fordham’s charisma filled the room the moment he entered and Meg’s serene beauty matched it completely. I stood to my feet, at once intimidated by their presence.

They put me to shame with their humility and politeness. Mrs Fordham curtsied and Mr Fordham bowed over my hand, while I stood their blushing to my roots.

 Jack:                Are you well Mrs Deed?

He spoke with kindness. I suppose he saw my heightened colour.

Amanda:       I am very well, thank you. Just all aflutter that I am finally meeting you.

My stuttering must have made me look like a silly school-girl.

Meg:               (With a twinkle in her eye) Never mind Missus Deed, he seems to have that effect on everyone.

Amanda:       (Finally I found my smile) I have heard of his reputation. Do women everywhere still fall for him?

Mr Fordham laughed and Meg joined him. She rolled her eyes.

Meg:               Shhh. I am trying to keep the truth from him. I am afraid it will go to his head.

Jack looked at her affectionately and gently pinched her arm.

Jack:                Shall we sit? I am sure you would be more comfortable.

Meg:               Can we offer you refreshment?

We sat down together and I declined their hospitality, instead busying myself with setting up my iPod to record.

Amanda:       So, how are you both enjoying married life?

Meg:               I could not have made a better choice. I tease him about how the young girls still melt at the sight of him, but he takes no notice of them.

Jack:                I only have eyes for my little rogue here. I still cannot believe she agreed to marry me. I don’t deserve her, you know.

Meg:               Doing it much too brown, I think, my dear!

Jack:                (Sighs dramatically) Very well, she makes my life miserable. (He turns to Meg.) Is that better love?

Meg:               (Laughing) You will not get a serious answer from him, you know.

They are obviously very much in love. Their eyes say it all.

Amanda:       How is young Jonathon?

Meg:               He is four years old now. He’s very handsome, and very like his father, except for the big green eyes. He has a love for horses like his pa, too, isn’t that right dear?

Mr Fordham merely nods. He has strangely become quiet, but still smiles.

Amanda:       Do you have any other children?

Meg:               We have two girls. Winifred is two and Ann is six months. They are so beautiful.

Amanda:       Winifred?

Meg:               We call her Winnie for short.

Amanda:              Ah, as you once were called by the Sainsbury children. What a lovely idea. Mister Fordham you must be so proud.

Jack:      (Nods again) Words cannot express…they are a blessing beyond description.

Meg:     Jack has becomes rather mawkish when you talk about his children. Not an ounce of steel in him. Just like butter.

Amanda:              I see. We would say ‘sooky la-la’, I think.

Jack:      What…?

I cannot help but laugh at his expression. Perhaps I should not have used a modern term, because it diverted his attention.

Jack:      What is that contraption you have, anyway?

Amanda:              This? (I wave the iPod) It’s an iPod.

Jack:      Eye pod? Is that a new type of quizzing glass?

Amanda:              (Laughing) No. Capital I – Pod. It is a recording device. It plays music, too.

Jack:      (Frowns) How can music be in something so tiny? Impossible!

I plug the headphones in and hold them out to his ears.

Amanda:              Here. Listen.

Mr Fordham pulls a disgusted face.

Jack:      That is not music.

Oops! I played a rock track. I quickly found some classical music.

Amanda:              Sorry, Mr Fordham. Try this.

Mr Fordham’s eyes widen.

Jack:      That is astounding. Really quite remarkable.

Meg:     May I hear?

Mr Fordham passes the ear phones to Meg. Her eyes also become round.

M:          How is it so?

Amanda:              Many things have been invented since the 1840s. We call it ‘modern technology’.

Mr Fordham leans forward with interest.

Jack:      What are the horses like?

Amanda:              Well, horses are more used recreationally now, or for racing.

Jack:      (Looks scandalised) No! How do people draw their carriages and travel?

Amanda:              Cars.

Jack:      Cars?

Amanda:              Cars with engines in them which make them drive without the need of horses.

Jack:      Do you mean those steam engines I’ve heard about?

Amanda:              No. They’ve got better engines than that now.

Jack:      I should like to see that.

I fiddle with my iPod again.

Amanda:              I think, in my time, you would drive a Ferrari. This is a picture of one.

Jack:      (Shock and admiration) This is a car?

Amanda:              This is a ‘sweet goer’ as you would say. One of the best you can get.

Jack:      And it needs no horses?

Amanda:              Imagine the power of six hundred horses. That is how powerful it is.

Jack:      (Amazed) Six hundred! How fast does it go?

Amanda:              Up to two hundred and five miles per hour.

Mr Fordham is left speechless by this, but soon rallies.

Jack:      And this is a picture of it, you say? It seems as though I merely look through a window. Are you certain this is not a new style of monocle?

Amanda:              (Shakes head) Modern photography is in colour and very clear.

Jack:      A photograph? That is a photograph inside your I…Pod?

Mr Fordham runs his hands through his hair in disbelief and lets out an awe-filled breath.

Meg:     Jack, Missus Deed did not come here to talk about her time, but to talk about us. You should not distract her.

Jack:      Maybe so, my dear, but I think I would like one of those cars. Is it possible for us to travel back with you?

Amanda:              (I realised I had said too much about the future.) Perhaps I will have some refreshment after all.

to be continued…

Published in: on 10th September, 2010 at 12:18 pm  Comments (6)  
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The Quirky Gene

Ok, so if you haven’t figured it out by now, I can be rather quirky sometimes. I have a very deep admiration and love of the ridiculous. Problem is–if indeed it is a problem at all–I seem to have passed it on to my eldest child.

She has begun to show definite signs of silliness, and I mean that in the nicest, most affectionate way.

For instance…this…

When I saw that, I could not stop laughing for a very long time, and needless to say, my dinner was cold by the time I could eat it.

The other day she told me she was going to sneeze. Thirty seconds later she told me she wasn’t going to sneeze. When I scolded her for being indecisive, she gurgled with laughter. She has the same ridiculous sense of humour as me!

Alas, she has a talent which I cannot match. (Insert despondent sigh here.) She has the admirable and very enviable ability to raise one eyebrow, which gives her face a very comical look when she mixes it with the right facial expression. How I wish I could do the same. She has surpassed me in this.

And yet, I am very proud of my girl. She is aspiring to be a writer just like her mum. How could I ask for more than that? Well, my other two children are close behind, and beginning to develop symptoms of quirkiness of their own. There is no hope. It is in their genes. 😛

In what way have you found you are reproducing yourself? Even if it is as simple as genetic idiosyncrasy.

Published in: on 1st September, 2010 at 1:30 pm  Comments (4)  
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To the rescue…

I am a big fan of superheroes. Any superhero movie shows at the cinema and I’m there (unless they’re really dark heroes). My favourite all time hero just has to be Superman. The original movies with Christopher Reeve are still on my top ten list and I have them on my shelf so I can watch them whenever I get the urge for a great hero movie.

I love that they have to hide who they really are with an ordinary persona. Very ordinary. The kind of ordinary that no-one would ever suspect had greatness beneath the surface. Clark Kent seems rather awkward, un-intelligent and clumsy. ‘Normal’ is their disguise and the ‘hero’ is their true self.

My other favourite hero is the Scarlet Pimpernel. Sir Percy Blakeny is an idiotic fop to all of the British Peerage, and annoyingly shallow. But in reality he  rescues aristocrats from the French Revolution, risking his life without question in daring escapades and amazing disguises.

Can you imagine my joy when my dear friend Brice (the same one who wrote the very silly poem in my fog blog recently) named me The Peppered Spinkler. Yes, (*sighs with resignation*) my true identity has been revealed. I am indeed a superhero. I was having a difficult day and Brice gave me a wonderful boost by informing me of that fact and giving me a hero name. I picked myself up off the floor, put my super powers into action, and ended the day on a high note.

You, too, are a super hero, even if you don’t know it yet. None of us are truly ordinary, we all have our own ‘super power’. So, who are you? What is your secret?

P.S. 😛

Published in: on 18th August, 2010 at 10:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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