Wednesday, February 02, 2011


I recently finished a month-long teaching stint at a post-apocalyptic school in west London. The school was bleak, to say the least, but what it lacked in basic humanity, it made up for in cheerful oddities.

For instance, one day, while supervising a science class, I looked out the window and saw a bunch of ponies on the football pitch.

Ponies! I exclaimed to myself.

I quickly turned my attention indoors, scanning the room for an in-the-know-looking kid. At the adjacent window I found my most likely candidate, hard at work tearing paper into small squares.

"What's the deal with all the ponies?" I asked.

"They belong to the gypsies," he said.

"Really," I persisted, "what's the deal with all the ponies?"

"They really do belong to the gypsies," he said, pausing at his paperwork. "The school's got a deal with them, and they get to graze them on the pitch".

What does the school get in return? I wondered. At this point I pictured the principal in a bare-knuckle contest he was destined to lose, a winner-takes-all pony-grazing agreement waiting ringside.

Anyway, I investigated the matter a little further, talked to some teachers, and the story checked out. Next to the school is a Gypsy—or Traveller, or Irish Traveller, or whatever you want to call them—residence. The kids attend the school, and the parents—among other itinerant pursuits—graze ponies on the football pitch. There you have it.


gerrod said...

So the school "wins" by getting... the gypsy students?

Do they properly understand the definition of "win"?

Stac said...


aubain said...

I presume the real "win" was that the principal secured exclusive rights to ride the ponies while dressed as a wild west sheriff and saying "this town ain't big enough for the both of us". Also they are total chick magnets.

Jules said...

Tell me about it Aubain. My family kept a pony when I was a kid, and from my 13th birthday onward it was nothing but ladies knocking on my doo

Jules said...

And, of course, by "doo", I mean door.