It is 1977 and the year 4* Geology field trip sleepily disgorges from the coach. Stepping down I ruminate over the events of the past three days and nights. We gather by the pile of suitcases. Mr. Parry, head of department, looks up as the head teacher strides towards us. A shiver ripples through our group. What will he say to our formidable head? I study my shoes and my mate Barry begins to edge towards the back of the group.
“So, how did it go Mr. Parry?” Says Mr. Trevere darkly. Mr. Parry takes a long look at us before replying.
“Oh, you know, not too bad.”
‘Not too bad?’ I look across for Barry in disbelief but he has disappeared. What is Mr. Parry saying? Mr. Parry who, when the coach broke down (for the third time), had definitely been heard swearing because we would lose our first night’s dinner?
That was just the beginning. We were out in the minibuses the next day. The combination of small Cornish track and tractor meant Mr. Parry had to reverse. His decidedly lax appraisal of the geology of the area tipped his minibus into a ditch. In the second minibus, I watched as my friends slid down the benches towards the rear doors. Fortunately Mr. Parry had had the sense to lock these. Barry showed me his bruises. The tractor kindly pulled them out but Roger Nunn says he heard Mr. Parry swear again.
Later, Peter Johnson’s mission to rebalance rock pool bio-diversity, armed only with geological hammer, approached global proportions. Confronting the whelk-splattered Johnson Mr. Parry’s shout of “What the hell do you think you’re doing boy?” could be heard far across the coast.
The whelks were revenged. Peter Johnson was the first to succumb to the sickness bug that evening. Teachers on shifts worked the buckets and mops all night.
Next afternoon Mr. Parry returned either a hero or short-sighted, depending on whom you asked. His group had narrowly avoided being caught by the tide and Sheila Burrows was crying, in best Drama Queen tones “We could of all been swept away!”
The third day seemed relatively calm. Groups went out, surveys completed, notes written up. Then the main business of preparing for the evening’s disco. Rumours abounded. Would Mr. Chein ask the lovely Miss Tuttle for a dance? (We all knew they fancied each other.) The only question on Mr. Parry’s mind that evening was “Who let off the fire extinguishers?”
So between catching up on sleep, I watched Mr. Parry as we drove home and felt butterflies in my stomach; sure that he was tallying the misdemeanours of the trip for Mr. Trevere.
“Good Mr. Parry.” Smiled Mr. Trevere warmly, “I’ll telephone the parents.”
Well, I thought. You may be able to fool Mr. Trevere but I’ve already made up my mind about my first trip away from home.
‘Not too bad’ Mr Parry? It was fantastic!
© S. Dyer 2012