A girl with so many extra teeth her mouth looked like an ivory chainsaw came up to me while I was innocently going about my lawful business of being a teacher and she sweetly said 'Siiiir, don't take this the wrong way, but when I first came to this school I thought you were ... don't take it the wrong way... but I thought you were... were... were...'
…a bit of a character?
…unlikely to last the year?
'...I thought you were.. like...'
'Alright, alright! Get on with it!' was my patient encouragement.
The girl was unperturbed, like a saintly ambassador from the Children’s Democratic Republic of Utopia making diplomatic representations to the mean, snarling president of Adultistan (we shall be re-naming our country when I think of something better).
The ambassador is entitled to her view. I am sure she represents the majority of her people. Sitting far away across the big horseshoe table she speaks into her microphone, and I cannot help but feel her tone is pathetically apologetic.
Interpreters whisper to each other as they puzzle over the most succinct translation.
Eventually my headset comes to life and I hear this transmission:
'... I thought you were a bit strange.'
I catch an interpreter's eye, my eyebrows raised. Is that what she meant? says my expression. The linguist goes down to his microphone again.
'I thought you were a bit strange.'
And I thought for a moment she was going to tell me something I didn’t know. Waste of time, there inter-generational peace conferences. I've got a totalitarian state to run, thank-you very much.