Hats off to the teachers

Four-minute story

Hats off to the teachers

Of course we wore our school caps and berets. This was a late nineteen-fifties grammar school and the idea of not wearing them was unthinkable, well almost. Even the sixth-formers, seventeen- and eighteen- year-olds, even the prefects wore them, once we approached school on the 66 or 148 buses. If your parents accepted a place for you at the school then that was that; you wore the complete uniform, including your cap or beret.

But we could have fun. When a teacher came into our classroom we were expected to stand up behind our desks until told to sit. Our classroom was a “temporary” hut which had a pitched roof. This meant that above us were wooden beams and a ceiling shaped like a letter A. One April Fool’s Day I “borrowed” a reel of black cotton from my mother’s work basket and took it to school. By the time our form mistress was seen approaching on her way to take the register we had each of us attached a length of cotton to our hats and passed the thread over the nearest beam. When Mrs Plant came in she found us sitting in our places, wearing our hats. We did not stand up.

Then, as if by magic, our hats rose up into the air. There they hovered and Mrs Plant’s mouth dropped open. We were holding the ends of our threads in our laps and the rising of caps and berets before her eyes was the only movement that our form mistress could detect. In a matter of seconds our serious expressions broke out into laughter and we showed Mrs Plant how we had set up our trick. Later, word must have gone round the staff-room for the number of teachers who found some excuse or other to pay us a visit was enormous. We knew why they were coming and they knew why they were coming. Together we shared the fun.

Caps and berets were finally done away with in 1962. We piled ours on top of the brick gate posts at the main entrance, under our headmaster’s study window. Someone had some matches. As we made our way to the bus stop we looked back and enjoyed seeing the lazy smoke looping itself around the gate before rising slowly up into the sky and disappearing altogether.

In the second paragraph the word borrowed appears between speech marks. What effect does this have?
What effect is created in the last paragraph by the sentence, Someone had some matches.?

Why do you think the writer describes the smoke disappearing into the sky?

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