Death and A Smaller Mini

The door from the prep room bursts open, a man, life large, balding, check shirt, wool tie, leather elbowed green tweed jacket,  Starski skids on one brown corduroyed knee into the science lab, finger pistol pointing. No body move.


The class erupts, laughter,  it's him again, they're in on this, the new teacher, initiated regains composure, nearly, joins in the joke uncertainly, hopes they didn't see defences breached. 


Uncomplaining, he gets the rough kids, the Fitzalan cast offs, the cse reject class, the exam hill too steep to try to climb club, where's Sean gone?, Tracy knows, exactly, she's one week late, borstal crows Tracy's friend, well it worked the last time he dryly jokes, the justice system pointless. And they think this lot are thick. 


On the school field his class on hands and knees,  as is he, counting grass and plantain, clover in a meter grid, their being absorbed, do ants count? no I don't think they can he says, sir! they moan, giggling, they start again, anything but copying, sodding textbook, he didn't need one, he wrote his own. They loved him. 


His imagination, written and presented by, the channel 4 documentary,  tragically unmade, the camera scans the clovered field by idling stream, Ennio Morricone soundtrack,  towering, improbable viaduct like cathedral vault, man made,  high in Pontsticill sky, he could see. He could see.


Lunchtime bell, he's rushing out, relief, escape, off to nurseries, more plants for the weekend garden, he knows them all, by name, in Latin, this one ... here, but once a different mission, announces to the staff room. He's buying a smaller mini.


Departing the village dinner party, ever the gentleman he pecks her soon to be widowed cheek, I'll bring the car round, the smaller mini never started, his wonderful heart gives out in the car park, a massive attack, the world a so much poorer, an emptier, unfulfillable place, I catch my unbelieving breath. And weep. 


For John Probert


February 2017