This morning I met Tiddles from the airport after his month’s sojourn in Scotland. He started to miss me by the end of the four weeks, despite a quick trip home mid-month… though this may have had a little more to do with the argument he had (and, needless to say, lost) with my brother. He’s home full of good intentions. It’s a balancing act – if I greet them with scepticism then that would be completely wrong and totally blow all chance of them succeeding, but there’s a big part of me that has to be realistic and protect myself from being sucked in too deeply until I see the evidence. It’s a fresh start where a line has been drawn underneath what’s gone before rather than simply erasing it all and pretending it didn’t happen.
Killing two birds with one stone, I bundled him into the car (after a hug and a kiss, of course) and we set off across country… or rather, would have done if I hadn’t taken a wrong turning out of the airport… we then set off again across country… and again… honestly, the sooner Tiddles learns to mapread properly the better. He starts off navigating and then loses interest so you say “What’s the number of the road I’m looking for?” and he replies “What? hmmm? Oh, the road? I dunno… which page is it on?”. But it was a beautiful day for a drive in the countryside and the route was absolutely gorgeous, so we couldn’t really complain. It did strike us both, though, how very far away from our little island we were driving – a thought that neither of us really liked to voice too specifically.
The aim of our journey was to visit a boarding school. I think God has his finger in the pie – I woke one morning knowing precisely the kind of school Tiddles needed but also knowing that no such place would exist and that I’d never be able to track it down, even if it did. Discussing it with a friend in MSN, we meandered through a few websites and both fell upon this place at the same time. It’s perfect. Not your average “we prepare children for Oxbridge” school, not your “only the wealthy need apply” kind of place, but a practical experience aimed at helping children gain in self-esteem and responsibility first and encouraging their academic progress alongside it regardless of their starting point. It’s a bit basic there, but it’s perfect and we both fell in love with the place the minute we drove up the drive and heard the birds singing and saw the flowers. What it offers is ideal, if only Tiddles can seize the chance and make the most of it.
What was particularly impressive was that one of the pupils was given the job of giving us a guided tour. He was an incredible ambassador for the place. If Tiddles ends up like him, I’ll be well pleased.
Mind you, I must admit to getting the giggles when I saw a huge pile of clothes and towels under a notice which said “please name your lost property”. I couldn’t decide which was funniest, the mental image of someone saying “I name this towel Sir Percy, good luck to all who dry with it” or the fact that you couldn’t put your name in something you’d lost, it had to be found property before you could name it! Neither Tiddles nor our lovely guide could quite see what was amusing me so I just giggled quietly under my breath.
We have an application form to be filled in by Tiddles, myself, and… sharp intake of breath here… his previous school. If the head teacher thinks he has potential (oh please, please, Mr Headteacher, please think he has potential) then he will call me and Tiddles individually for interview.