Thursday, 17 August 2017

Martin's Flags



 Gill James 

strong black coffee

“I got Martin to tidy out my cupboard,” said Steph. “Jane would never have coped.”  Both women watched the gaggle of Ofsted inspectors troop along the corridor.
“Well, she’d have coped better than any of them I should think,” muttered Ann. “Those who can’t, teach, and those who can’t teach, inspect. Do they move around in packs like that because they’re scared? I just hope he behaves if they come in next lesson.”
“Well, you know where I am if you need me.”
Ann moved towards her classroom. No sign of any suits or heels. Thank God. Just Year 9, bottom set.  All twelve of them.  Ah well. Would she get them to remember any French today?
She’d just got them answering her “Où habites-tu?” with “J’habite….” followed by the name of the country whose flags she held up when in walked the rodent-faced modern languages inspector. He nodded curtly and sat down right next to Martin.
Ann’s mouth went dry. Today Martin was wearing his Combined Cadet Force uniform. That usually gave him permission to bully other kids.
They started on colours.  “Quelles sont les couleurs du drapeau de la France?”
To her amazement Martin’s hand shot up. 
“Oui, Martin?”
“Bleu, rouge et blanc. »
« D’accord. »
The lesson continued. Martin kept  volunteering information. ”Le drapeau de l’Espagne est rouge et jaune. »  He certainly knew all of his colours and country names and it soon became clear that he knew more about flags than she did.
The Ofsted inspector hardly looked up from his notebook. Martin kept staring at him. Ann hoped he wouldn’t say anything rude. 
The lesson ended. The inspector nodded again and left the room. Martin came up to her desk. “That bloke who was sitting next to me didn’t join in the lesson. He was doing his homework all the time.”
“No Martin, he was making notes about how well you were doing.”
“Naw. He’s a loser. He don’t know nothing about flags. Miss, for my homework, can I print some out and put the names on in French? You can put them up in the classroom.”
Had she heard Martin correctly?  “That would be lovely, Martin. Thank you.”

Steph came up to her at break. “You’ve got a glowing report from the inspector. The whole lesson conducted in French, more or less, and bottom set Year 9 enthused.”
“Don’t know how I managed that.”  Something made her look out of the window.
A group of younger students had gathered round the big oak tree at the edge of the field. Martin was swinging from a branch of a tree. Was he shouting abuse at them? That would be his normal style.
After he'd been so good. She rushed out ready to remonstrate. As she got nearer, though, she realised that he was singing the colours of the rainbow in French. The younger students were enthralled. He grinned. "Did I impress that inspector bloke, miss?"   
        

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