I once watched a brilliant school assembly in a school at which I was teaching.
The Year Head produced a large pair of scissors and slowly scanned all the faces looking at her. What was going to happen? Already the atmosphere became hushed and wondering. Eventually she picked out a tall boy in the middle of the hall and beckoned him to come up to her. He did so. “Take off your blazer,” she said, and he meekly complied putting it to one side. “Now stand still – don’t move.” She took the scissors and CUT HIS SHIRT! She first cut right round his cuffs so that they were separated from the shirt. Then she cut up the arms and at the shoulders she cut around again, so the sleeves were completely cut away and ended up on the floor. What on earth was she doing – had she lost her senses?
Then she went to work on the back of his shirt so we couldn’t see what she was doing. But she was adding a lot of shirt material to the pile on the floor. Occasionally she would look up at us and smile – slightly maniacally. There was a lot of nervous laughter and merriment, but everyone noticed that the boy in question did not look very happy about it. They wouldn’t want to swap places.
Eventually she seemed to finish and stepped back to admire her work. She turned him round and there was a gasp from the room. There was a huge cut on the back of the shirt – a massive circle that was now just skin. Like a truly great actress she grandly looked at us all as we wondered what was going on. Then she told him to put his blazer back on. On it went and there he stood.
Slowly people cottoned on to what she was doing. He stood there and we knew his shirt had no sleeves and no back but he looked perfectly normal. If you hadn’t watched her work with the scissors, you would never have known about his shirt. She had found a clever way of saying – be careful in your life – there are people who aren’t what they appear to be. Don’t trust everything you see on the outside. Be a little bit guarded with those who you don’t know. Good advice I think, and I don’t know about you but sometimes I come across people who aren’t what they seem.
Of course, the whole thing was a set up and she had taken an old shirt from lost property and secretly told the boy in advance what he had to do. And he played his part well because we believed him. But these things stay in your head and sometimes make more sense later!
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