I was seven years old, and had reached the dizzy heights of the last year at infant school – top of the school, one of the eldest, clever at everything.  I thought I knew it all.  My teacher that year, Mrs Philpott, was pretty cool as teachers go: usually fairly easy going, but sometimes a little harsh and strict.  I figured out a way to fix this.  Everyone wants to be nice, right? So I was sure she didn’t actually mean to be nasty to us.  All it needed was a little feedback to help her adjust her behaviour.

I wrote a letter, in my very best handwriting, and smuggled it onto her desk.  “Dear Mrs Philpott, you are usually really nice, but sometimes you are not so nice.  Please try to be nice all the time and I will put a message in the back of Emmyleigh’s exercise book every day to tell you how nice you have been.”

Okay, it was probably dumb to say I’d put it in my own book, but I reckoned that I could put it in anyone’s book, so putting my name in the letter wasn’t proof of anything – in fact it could be argued it was proof against it being me.

Well the reaction wasn’t quite as I expected – in fact the headmistress appeared in our classroom to summon us one by one for individual questioning.  The only other person who knew it was me was my best friend Rachel, so I felt confident that I was safe – until it was my turn to be questioned.

“Rachel told us it was you,” Mrs Wallace said.  “She’s a Brownie, and has promised to always tell the truth.”

I can’t remember what else was said, or what punishment was meted out.  I do remember rushing across the playground to the toilets and flushing away all the little Very Nice, Quite Nice and Horrible cards I had made, and even a little bit of cotton wool I had got hold of from somewhere (cotton wool was rare, and I liked playing with it, but it was in the same bag as the notes, and I couldn’t bear to keep any of it).

It took a while to get over the feeling of betrayal I felt towards Rachel, or the sense of regret that I’d lost the cotton wool and that my scheme had failed, but luckily Mrs Philpott never seemed to let any of this affect the way she behaved towards me – she continued to be nice usually, but still, on the odd occasion, a little harsh and strict.

Note: names changed to protect the innocent (and not so innocent!)

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1 Comment

  1. What a great story 🙂



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