Mr. Potato! (From TALES FROM A COUNTRY BOY – A Treasury of Norfolk).

By Published On: May 30, 20240 Comments

It was the first day of term at the primary school in the village of Wroxham. The form teacher for the year above our class had left at the end of the previous term. Who was the new teacher? What did he, or she, look like? Rumour was rife, and someone had heard that it was a man. What was his name, and what would he look like? None of our class had seen him, and we assumed he was with the big children in the class above. But next year, we would be the big children, and he would be our teacher.

And then there were excited whispers. Rita had been to the toilet, and Margaret from the class above us was there too. So now the news was out, and indeed, the whispers around our class room were extremely excited. And there was smirking, and suppressed giggling.

Rita whispered to Sandra, and Sandra whispered to Michael, who whispered to Humbo (no-one was quite sure why he was called Humbo), who sniggered behind his hand, and whispered to Paul. And Paul lent over to me.

“Mr. Potato. His name is Mr. Potato. Margaret told Rita in the toilets. Mr. Potato”.

Everybody wanted to see what Mr. Potato looked like. Maybe a brownish oval face with little or no hair? We were soon to find out. All classes were to finish early that morning, and assemble together in the hall. Sitting tightly together in rows on forms, we realised that there were three new members of staff. Two were men, but which was Mr. Potato?

The headmaster, Mr. Mattocks, called for silence, and explained that he wanted to introduce three new members of staff to the school. The little children in class one were to be taught by Mrs. Robinson. She stepped forward. The children in class two would have Mr. Cole as their form master. He stepped forward. And for form four… we waited with barely concealed excitement…. “I would like to introduce Mr. Tate”. There was silence, of course, but I looked enquiringly at Paul, who looked at Humbo, who looked at Michael, who looked at Sandra, who looked at Rita. Rita was staring across at class four, and fixed her eye on Margaret, who grinned widely and stuck her tongue out at her.

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Barrie Lawrence

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