Would you like ice with that?

Ever had a bad day?
When nothing seems to go right?
I remember one such when I was still in the old Chalk and Talk racket.
Of all the school trips that I organised, one sticks in my mind above all (not counting the epic Tate Gallery visit, which you will find here)
My form class were a were a sporty lot and had won the annual school sports day every year, hand running, and were set fair to do it again in their final year. So I promised them a school trip if they managed it.
Well the upshot was that they did win it, and elected to go Ice Skating!
So Ice Skating it was. The plan was to use the two school minbuses and take them to Slough Ice Rink for an evening’s skating. Colleague Graham Atkinson their Head of Year came on board to help out with supervision. I booked the transport, the school’s two minibuses. Game On! I decided to take the old bus, a filthy old transit which smelled like a rugby players jock strap, and was covered inside with a thick powdery layer of dried mud, while I let Graham have the new bus which was cleaner and easier to drive. I got the parental permission letters, insurance forms completed. Mini bus booking forms filled in.
Dirty old bus

Dirty old bus

Finally the appointed day arrived. After school had finished I decided to collect the bus keys and give them the once over.
Problem. The old bus keys weren’t where they should have been; in a box in the first deputy’s office which he shared with the caretaker/groundsman.Eventually as the school emptied of staff, the receptionist,tidying her desk for the day came across a bunch of keys.’Are these the ones? Sure enough, they were with note tied to them which said ‘ Do not use’ Well what’s that supposed to mean? I had it booked, and it wasn’t due for it’s MOT or anything . I went out and did a visual check of the bus. Tyres – fine, lights and indicators – fine. I started it up – no sign of any leaks, engine sounded fine. I couldn’t understand it. Well no matter, I’d got the keys – time to get a wiggle on, I went home for a quick shower and got changed. By the time I got back to school, the kids were arriving and congregating around the buses. I gave Graham the keys to the new one and we loaded up. Graham set off first.
Slough Ice Rink, Montem Lane.

Slough Ice Rink, Montem Lane.

As soon as I started to accelerate from the junction outside the school it became apparent why the keys had ‘Do Not Use’ written on them. The bloody clutch was slipping badly. Would the bus make it there? And more importantly would it make it back? I decided to press on. I didn’t mention anything to the kids.
Well we got there OK, if a little slowly, debussed and made our way into the ice rink. Some of the kids were old hands and had been many times before, so the exchanging of shoes for skates was done quickly and they were on the ice before we knew it.
Graham and I had collected our skates and were about to put them on when some of the girls came up to us all in a tizzy.

Balance and Poise

Balance and Poise

‘Sir, Emma’s hurt her hand.’ Sure enough I could see Emma being escorted by a phalanx of our kids over to where we were. We called for Ice Rink staff and their First Aider took a look. In fact it was Emma’s wrist that causing the pain. We put an ice pack on it. Nearest A and E? Wexham Park Hospital. Right! Let’s go. I used the new bus: I was not going to risk anything in the old jalopy. Luckily it was not far, and well sign-posted,  I turned into the Car park and reversed into a parking space. I was concentrating on looking in my mirrors that I forgot about the little step that stands out of the back of the bus and pranged the car behind me. Which Emma thought was hilarious (I put it down to the shock)

Wexham Park Hospital

I helped her out from her seat and went to check the damage. Luckily both vehicles were fine.
I can think of any number of places I would rather be than a packed A and E department at Wexham Park Hospital. Our misery is compounded. After a short wait for triage we are told. that the wait for X – Ray is about three hours, and treatment (if needed) could be the early hours. The triage nurse suggested going to a hospital nearer to home. In the event we decided to ring Emm’s parents, have them pick her up here, the take her to Hillingdon hospital. So Emm and I sit down to wait. Then we had the only piece of luck all day. Suddenly there was a gap in the queue for X ray, so we jumped at it and she got it done. Thankfully it was just bad bruising. No breaks. It was a case then, of waiting for Mum and Dad to negotiate the M25 and find their way to Wexham Park. I was thinking about the rest of the party. The rink closed at 10, and it was already half past. Then Emma’s parents arrived. We explained everything and I made my excuses and left.
When I drove into the car park at  the rink was greeted with an ironic cheer.
We still had to get home, we swapped buses and set off back, me nursing the clutch all the way.
We got back to school safe and sound at about 11pm to be met with the inevitable group of worried parents. Soon Graham and I were alone in the school car park.’ Fancy a pint’ he says’ ‘Sounds like a plan. How’s your triple Axel coming on?…’