They were two retired teachers, drinking a lazy coffee, quietly lost in their
memories of scholastic reminiscence.
‘How long were you a teacher Farnsworth?’
‘Thirty-seven years all up, apart from a spot of long service, I spent all my time in the classroom, never displayed any desire for the administration side of teaching. I was quite content, to the best of my ability, to instill education into the minds of our snotty-nosed youth.’
‘Me too, in fact I am thinking of writing a book entitled, Blackboard Memories, how about you Farnsworth don’t you harbour fond memories of your days as a teacher?’
‘Oh, I have volumes of memories my friend, yet I have no desire to author my experience.’
‘Do you have a favourite memory you would care to share with an old colleague?’
‘Let me see there are sooooooo many, you can not walk your way through thirty-seven years of young lives without becoming the human depositary of volumes of happiness with a mixture of tears and sorrow. These days I try to dismiss the sadness and favour hilarious.
Yes there is one memory that is often recollected during my day- dreaming moments.’
‘This was to be my last teaching day in a small three teacher, Victorian country school, which shall remain nameless and before class finished for the day, I was expected to make an announcement. I always day-dream this as if it were an inter-active play.’
‘I know all of you will be pleased to learn, especially you Thornton, that this is my last day of teaching to you cretins horribilis I have been transferred to a big city school packed wall to wall with brilliant, well behaved children, none of whom will wish to instruct me in the fine art of milking cows or pig sticking.
Come the morrow you will be introduced to Miss Millicent who will be your new teacher and for whom I have left a comprehensive dossier explaining the idiosyncrasies of each and every one of you. I only pray that the same Miss Millicent is a strict disciplinarian who has remembered to pack her thumb screws and other such instruments of extreme torture.’
‘Yes, Saunders, I can see your hand furiously waving at me, do you wish to ask a question or are you simply seeking permission to discover the toilet?’
‘I wish to ask a question sir.’
‘Very good then, please share with us your profound thoughts regarding the unfortunate Miss Millicent.’
‘Is Miss Millicent a foreigner sir?’
‘Do tell Saunders, what makes you think Miss Millicent is other than Victorian born and bred?’
‘It is the name sir, it sounds funny sir, Susie Thomas reckons it’s a wog name sir.’
‘You are almost correct Saunders, and thank you for your in-put Miss Thomas, I do believe Millicent was derived from an old German name, Melisenda, meaning, She with the beautiful gait.’
‘Yes Watson do you wish to enlighten us with further thoughts upon the matter of Miss Millicent’s ancestral origins?’
‘When dad built the new fence last month, he told mum that she now had a beaut gate, only mum’s name is Sally which is nothing like Millicent is it sir?’
‘Quite true Watson except I do believe we have a misunderstanding of two English words with similar pronunciation, hence please focus your optics upon the blackboard.
First we have GATE, the meaning of which I assume you all know, including the fact a beaut specimen of which is currently decorating the Watson’s new fence.
Now watch closely, can any of you lot tell me the meaning of the word, GAIT?’
‘Ah, young Mr. MacIntyre, right Angus, I am pleased there is at least one in this class who does not have to learn a new four letter word. I am all ears Angus, please enlighten me.’
‘Is it another word for bum sir, like as in Miss Millicent has a beautiful bum?’
‘I am shattered….. …. No Angus it most certainly does not refer to Miss Millicent having a delightful derriere, in fact I have no idea as to the perfection of the Millicent posterior.
The word gait refers to the manner of walking, an attribute we also attach to the meaning of the name Millicent, is that clearly understood by you Angus and of course the rest of you lot?’
‘Not really sir,’ came the fragile voice from the back.
‘That sounds like you Peggy Hitchcock, so come up here so we may all discover the meaning of gait.’
‘Right Peggy I would like you to walk across the room while you imagine that you are carrying two pails of milk from the cow shed to the kitchen.’
‘Thank you Peggy, I personally would grant you an Academy Award for that marvelous demonstration of buckled knees and gallons of spilt milk. That to me, would be more of an obscene stagger than a beautiful gait, so let us employ the services of the lanky Micky Masters, trot your frame out here Micky because you are about to demonstrate to the whole class how a nice tall lovely lady should walk with a beautiful gait.’
‘Alright you lot settle down, we all know Micky’s not a shelia. Now Micky place these books on top of your head, and while they balance I would like to see you walk across the room.’
‘Do I really have to sir, couldn’t you use one of the girls like Mavis Wilkins?’
‘The pity of it is Mickey, sadly Mavis is not tall and skinny enough to best demonstrate the essence of a magnificent Millicent moving about this rural, Victorian countryside with what could best be described as a beautiful gait.’
‘Well Farnsworth I imagine Micky Masters will remember you for the rest of his days, but tell me, this Miss Millicent of yours, was she tall and slim and walked with a beautiful gait?’
‘Buggered if I know Simkins, I was packed and out of there by five O’clock, sitting in a St. Kilda pub by nine-thirty enjoying a celebratory drink for the success of my great bureaucratic escape to freedom from rural Victoria.’
Ah the memories of the classroom come flooding back for Mr. Farnsworth as he fondly remembers a certain lady called Millicent, who sadly he came to know by name only.
He oft does wonder did the lady Millicent really walk with a beautiful gait?