Mr Humptytrumpty stood looking into the ornate, gilt framed mirror in his bedroom, smoothing his back combed quiff with his hand. Behind him stood The Current Wife, hairspray and brush in hand.
“Get your hands off your hair man!” she ordered, and took a good look at him.
“Hmmm, I think you’ll do.” she said, removing a stray, long blonde hair from the back of his best blazer. “Now, have you got clean underpants on? You know you could get peashooted by a Lower School oick at any time, and I don’t want Matron thinking I let you go out in mucky drawers.”
“And a warm vest on? It’s cold out there.”
“And a clean piece of chalk?”
“Yes dear, two, in my top pocket.”
“Right then. Run along now or you’ll be late for your speech to the School Governors. And mind you take your shoes off at the door when you get back, I don’t want any of that swamp mud in MY house!”
Mr Humptytrumpty shuffled out of the room, sighed a big sigh of relief from escaping his wife’s clutches, and made his way to the front door, where Assistant Headmaster Mr Two-pence-short-of-a-shilling and Head Boy Steve (Altright) Baboon were waiting.
“Bring it on!” said Mr Humptytrumpty, “Let’s go for it. I’m ready! ”
The three of them strode across The Big School playground and made their way to the Cricket Pavilion (commonly referred to as “the swamp”, due to its proximity to a muddy stream, hence The Current Wife’s concern about muddy shoes), where The Big School governors were sat, in rows, waiting.
Mr Humptytrumpty entered the Pavilion by the main Cricket Pitch door. “Blimey!” he thought, “it isn’t half full, and half of ’em don’t look too friendly.” He gulped, fixed his biggest ‘I’m a winner don’t mess with me’ grin, and walked past the governors to the stage at the front of the room.
Mr Humptytrumpty turned to face the govenors, pursed his lips (you know, in that way he has that makes him look like he’s sucking soup through a straw), and spoke.
“Good afternoon Gentlemen,” he said, “and good afternoon wives.”
“And good afternoon to ladies too!” a female voice shouted from the governors ranks, “This is an equal opportunity school, remember!”
Mr Humptytrumpty ignored her completely, as is his habit when women speak, and looked at his audience.
“I want you to know,” he started, “I’m doing a good job. A really good job. We’re all doing a good job. The Big School will be proud again, The Big School will be strong, The Big School will lead!” He nodded, “I have big plans.”
Headmaster Humptytrumpty pulled the blackboard to the centre of the stage, took a piece of chalk from his top pocket with a flourish, and started to write and speak at the same time, in the way that ancient Headmasters do when they lecture you.
“Number 1,” he said, as he wrote “1” on the blackboard, “send all the kids from the Little School Next Door back where they came from. No excuses. I don’t care how long they’ve been in this school, they’re going back. They’re all bad. Nasty. And I’m going to build a bigger, longer, higher, stronger wall to make sure they can’t get back. It will be the biggest and best wall you’ve ever seen. Oh yes.” He nodded, “Have to do that.”
The governors looked at each other. “Well,” they thought, “so far it’s the same old, same old, but at least he’s not shouting.” One or two risked removing their earplugs.
Mr Humptytrumpty continued.
“Number 2. Peashooters. Big ones. Very big ones. The biggest peashooters in the world. And lots and lots more Prefects to use them. And high velocity water pistols, those too. High velocity.” He nodded.
Then Mr Humptytrumpty glared at his audience with his sucking up soup face. “I want to spend more money on peashooters and water pistols than any other Headmaster who ever was, ever has. I want to have more and bigger peashooters than any other School has. And I want them NOW.”
“Fight, fight” yelled a group of governors sat on the right hand side of the room, “Yes! We’ll fight ’em all! Any of ’em. Let us at ’em! We like a good fight!”
“Oh, grow up,” replied the governors on the left, “we’ve already got more peashooters than any other school. Why more?”
“Silence please!” said Mr Humptytrumpty, thowing his piece of chalk at the bickering group, “I’m not finished yet!”
“Number three,” Mr Humptytrumpty continued, as he took the second piece of chalk out of his top pocket and wrote “3” on the blackboard.
“Number three, I want new school buildings, lots of them. I want all the old buildings to be repaired. I want the biggest, best, smartest, brightest school in the world. I want to spend one trillion dollars on it! Everything brand spanking new. Glittering. Guilded. Lots of gold – lots of gold. I want a big new pipeline to run water to the Gym Showers. And we’ll do it alone, no more agreements with nasty foreign schools. It’s all going to be just for us. Just for us! ”
“And. And!” he grinned, “I’ll make sure that the people who do the building pay less tax.” He paused and nodded, “Have to do that.”
There was loud applause from the governors on the right hand side of the room.
Mr Humptytrumpty smiled a very, very big smile, “Less tax for builders of big buildings.” He nodded.
“Next,” he said, writing “4” on the blackboard, “I am going to have very extreme vetting of all bus and hall passes.” He glared at the governors on the left hand side of the room. “Only pupils with the right kind of pass will be allowed in The Big School, and those that don’t will be expelled immediately! Expelled! No second chances!”
He paused briefly for effect, nodded, and looked over his audience again.
“Lastly,” he said, writing “5” on the blackboard, “lastly, we have to get rid of Matron. She’s too fat, too useless and too expensive. And I don’t like her. Get rid of Matron. Matron has to go!”
A number of governors looked like they were going to cry. They liked Matron. “I say!” said one, “I rather like Matron. She always patched me up with Little Miss Hug first aid plasters after I’d taken a tumble in the school yard.” “Yes,” agreed another, “she used Mr Tickle plasters on me! And honey on a spoon to help the medicine go down.”
Mr Humptytrumpty glared at them. “Man up!” he said, “Matron is a looser!”
He put down his chalk, and looked around the room slowly.
“I have a vision,” he finished, “I have a mission. The time for small thinking is over. No more small thinking. My mission! My vision! MY job is to represent The Big School. GOD BLESS THE BIG SCHOOL!”
And with that, he turned on his heels and strode out of the room, followed by Tuppence and Baboon.
There was applause from some of the governors.
The governors looked at each other. Finally, one spoke, “I say chaps,” he said to the others, “that was quite a good show by old Humptytrump. I have to say he batted rather well. Almost no shouting. Spoke politely. Only threw one piece of chalk. Quite a good show!”
“Jolly good show, I should say.” replied another. “Much quieter this time. Didn’t need my ear plugs.”
One governor had been studying the notes on the blackboard. “But chaps,” he said, “I think we’ve got a bit of a problem. There’s a lot of promises on that board, and they’ll cost rather a lot more than we’ve got in our piggy banks.”
He glanced up at the clock, “Good Lord, it’s afternoon teatime already. Put the kettle on. Let’s have a nice cup of tea and think it over, I’ll be Mother. Now, who’s got the jammy dodgers?”
Indeed readers, there are a lot of promises. A big new wall, more peashooters, more water pistols, more prefects, more and bigger, better buildings, less tax. And no Matron? Yet more extreme vetting? Expulsions? No agreements with other schools?
And the governors are right, who will pay for it all?