New School – new name
They both wore suits, every day, and ties of course. It was as if they could not help themselves; they were always immaculately turned out, sometimes even with a buttonhole. One was the headmaster, concerned to make the school a success, concerned for his and the school’s reputation. The other was a member of my department, a hard-working and much respected colleague.
The time had come for an amalgamation with another school, the girls’ school, not far away up the road. There were meetings and consultations and more meetings and a wonderful weekend for the staff of the two schools to start planning the new establishment, where boys and girls would be taught together on our site.
Not only were there new toilets to be built. Not only would the school have to look different and feel different, but it would also need to be different. There would have to be a new name. We listened as news of discussions reached us, wondering what we would have to call ourselves once the deed was done. Soon the builders had propped their ladders up against the front of the building and my well-dressed colleague from the English Department must have found a moment to watch them and time to wonder about the school’s new name. He needed to stand there for only a few moments, for not only was he well-dressed, but he had a dry and wicked sense of humour.
He turned and hurried into the building and knocked on the headmaster’s door.
“Headmaster, I’m terribly sorry to disturb you, but you must come and see what the builders have done with the new name on the front of the school. They can’t spell.” The headmaster looked up, alarmed, while my colleague continued. “We’re All Stains School now.”
By the time they had reached the outside of the building I think my colleague must have confessed to his joke, but how he ever managed to explain it away I shall never know.
What do you think gave the teacher the idea for his joke?
Why do you think he apologised to the headmaster?