Speckly Woo has been on number of school trips in recent weeks. The Big Draw at Salisbury Cathedral, a visit to Parish Church of St. Margaret of Antioch, the resting place of Florence Nightingale and, on Monday, a chance to bake reindeer biscuits, courtesy of Waitrose. All in all, an interesting and stimulating range of activities.
I tried to recall a moment from my early days at school, that didn't include sitting with a finger on my lips or standing in the corner of the room. Then it came to me, my first experience of magic, close up. It was at about this time of year and some seasonal entertainment had been arranged in the hall adjacent to our school. Before we were let loose on the cakes, buns, and lemonade, we sat in quiet rows to witness the wonders of a real magician. We all oohed and aahed as kids do on such occasions, as bunches of flowers were produced and playing cards disappeared. Then for the big finale, which involved fire. Yes, real fire, only feet away from innocent young children. I think the object of the exercise was to ignite some accelerant or other, clamp a lid on the receptacle, then remove the lid to reveal something wonderful. We would all drop our jaws in unison, and send our entertainer on his merry way with an enthusiastic round of applause.
Unfortunately, upon removal of the lid, the only wonder was that the hall didn't burn down. Flaming debris flew into the air before cascading all around the poor man's feet. The accelerant flared to eyebrow height, something that provoked a good deal of arm waving and stamping of feet.
I have no recollection of what happened next. Someone gave the instruction to tuck in, and we dutifully complied.