The sentence to start the story was:
The Headmaster had been sleeping peacefully when the imbroglio began downstairs.
The multi-talented Ms Greenaway put the sentences together to create this light-hearted, ‘tongue-in-cheek’ story.
The Headmaster had been sleeping peacefully when the imbroglio began downstairs.
As the brouhaha raved on, ignorant of his thwarted repose, the Headmaster’s chagrin was piqued. Try as he might to remain optimistic, it soon became entirely necessary for him to raise some objection – some form of authoritative intervention was required. He mulled it over. Yes indeed-! The discombobulation raved while he donned his master’s cape, straightened to his full height and confidently approached the solid study door. He grasped the handle, flung the door wide… and (later admitted) was not entirely prepared for the gambolling caribou which capered past him through the reception area into the atrium. Nor did the sight of several teachers and students in hot pursuit brandishing sheets and ropes entirely distract from the uniquely mellifluous tone of its playful bellow.
For a full minute the Headmaster stood agog as the caribou, teachers and students executed a curiously uncoordinated polka, then exited at pace along the corridor towards the staff room. It was hard to know who had won.
Rooted in his doorway, the Headmaster pondered a suitable course of action. As he did so, he was distracted by an indistinct mumbling issuing from the Atrium. On further investigation he discovered one of the teachers had not left with the rabble, no, quite the opposite, she sat there in a dwaal after hitting her head. He quickly ascertained she was uninjured, simply somewhat disorientated (in response to his concerned enquiries, she replied with some urgency – “The government are trying to gentrificate New York as a robust plan to steal the moon!”) Yes, the situation was far from ideal.
It occurred to the Headmaster that it would be preferable to reinstate some order before the parents arrived to collect their children. With this in mind he hauled Mrs — up onto her feet and escorted her to where she might rest on the sofa in his office. This took some time since she weaved left and right, mumbling and shouting all the way: “I want a portion of chips every Sunday however if I do this I will become chubby!…” (then conspiratorially) “Chubby Charlie got hit by a tsunami because he was absolutely egotistically fat…”. It really was quite disconcerting. “Yes, yes Mrs –-” the Headmaster soothed, wishing things would hurry along.
As this was taking place the caribou leapt through a staffroom window and cavorted on the well-tended lawn of School House before gleefully leading its pursuers towards the Music Department. The Headmaster watched the inelegant progress of the rabble from his study window and sighed a tortured lament. He informed Mrs — he would need to make haste towards the commotion, however distasteful (he had always been a misanthrope so didn’t want to go and join in). Mrs — fixed him with a searching gaze and confided “I was so egotistical to get my fish and chips but not to get to my geography class, on Sundays the meals are dangerously chubby.” The Headmaster began to wonder if the damage to her mind might be permanent.
Upon striding from the main entrance the Headmaster assessed the destruction caused by the recent disturbance. He was terribly discombobulated when he saw the moist, soggy ground after the rain, which had been torn up and trampled, leaving a broad swathe of mud pointing towards a ground floor window, broken, nonetheless. Undeterred he hastened towards this crime scene, and peered cautiously through the damaged window – the room was spinning like a test tube under centrifugal force. The cacophony of noise was infuriating, he could neither comprehend the shouts and yells nor make himself heard. Eventually he caught the attention of a student music teacher, who skirted around the rabble and dived over the windowsill to reach him. The Headmaster asked for an account of the events, Mr — replied “A loud bang rang out from down below causing my bedside flagon to fall over and drench my glockenspiel’s keys.”
“But how did this all begin?!” Asked the Headmaster, feeling just a little impatient.
“The commotion was all about moist cake,” proffered the student teacher. (This was unexpected.) He went on quite matter-of-factly:
“You see, sir, caribou are terribly fond of cake. It’s a commonly known fact. When the catering team delivered some of their deliciously moist lemon drizzle to the dining hall this afternoon the caribou simply could not be restrained!”
“I see,” said the headmaster (although conversely, he remained entirely ignorant of the reason for the caribou’s presence on site). Feeling it wise to appear au-fait with the situation he enquired, “How did the caribou get to the cake?”
“It was a voluptuous thief, she smashed the window while saying “yeet!”.
The Headmaster returned his gaze to the clumsy beast frolicking among the xylophones and curiously, he now recognised the faint dusting about her whiskers was sugar. He ruminated.
“I believe we are in need of the catering team’s help.”
The annoying idiosyncrasies of the Headmaster included his snoring, (which brought to mind the torturous tick-tocking voice of the glockenspiel), and his habit of calling the dining hall for refreshments from his office. This had become something of a challenge for the catering team who delivered in all weather conditions, hot or cold morsels, sweet or savoury. On this day, the Headmaster requested cake. Lots of it. He stood in the window scanning expectantly for the arrival of the aluminium trolley, pushed by two determined dinner ladies – things were in order. He felt his early years of military command weaving through the fabric of his plan. No pesky demerara-fuelled artiodactyl was going to gallop rough-shod over his college!
Once the cakes had arrived the Headmaster called all Heads of Department on site to an emergency summit. When assembled there was quite a squash in the Headmaster’s Office, which roused Mrs — from her stupor. “Queenie sent a text full of argie-bargie so I replied with one full of Attic salt” she announced to the group. The Head of English asked her how she felt and looked a little concerned when the reply came “I felt like a dandiprat in metal darbies, playing my moogsynthesizer in tune with the callithumpian.” The teachers tried to focus on the task in hand, but it certainly was not easy when such interjections persisted. It was agreed that her telling people she was going to be head girl was such hyperbole, that the group largely ignored Mrs—’s comments thereafter.
The teachers and Headmaster thought furiously, devising a range of schemes of how to contain the caribou, (some drawing from the morning’s previous failed experience) with little success. Until the Head of Science suggested they should somehow sedate it, perhaps by drugging the cake? This seemed like an excellent idea, it appeared all would be well! Until the Head of Business recalled the recent disposal of all sedatives for unruly teenagers in preparation for an Ofsted inspection. (After all, a wise man once said ‘sagacious students try to get out of prep as they try to escape by building a rocket to the moon but do not realise the teachers got there first.’)
The Headmaster mused. It was the Head of Politics who spoke next, an elderly man who (frankly) it was at times easy to overlook. His quavering voice weakly broke the heavy silence:
“My last session with the Year 12s proved quite instructive. By the time I’d gone through my lesson plan all but one of the group was sound asleep…”
The Headmaster’s attention was caught – yes! Too true! Some of those lessons had been known to be rather… soporific… (He had himself fallen asleep during the last presentation given by … what the deuce was his name? … during morning prayers. He’d been forced to claim illness).
“Perfect!” he cried. “We shall lure the creature into this office and once contained, will induce an unconscious state before the parents arrive!” At this, the teachers set about laying a trail of cake from the top of the drive to the Headmaster’s office. Professor Siccitas was concealed within the office, having retrieved his spectacles and lesson notes, and Mrs — was loaded onto the canteen trolley and moved into the staffroom. The teachers concealed themselves in hopeful expectation.
The distant stamp of erratic footfall became audible, growing louder and faster, a curious bellow and then … nothing. The teachers peered over the windowsill and could see the caribou gobbling up cakes, barely lifting its sugar-coated head as it vacuumed the path towards the main reception. They watched the mesmerising action of its greedy lips, its jaunty trot between cakes, and finally its wiggling, stumpy tail as it disappeared inside School House. There was a scuffling noise, the slam of a heavy door and then the monotonous voice of the professor…
“Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”
The teachers held their breath…it seemed like hours… (Indeed, some listening intently became a little drowsy)… there was a soft thump, more like a ‘wuuumpfh’ and softly, oh so softly, rose the sound of gentle, rhythmic snoring.
The Headmaster stealthily made his way from the staffroom, then through the main entrance. He crept around the front of School House and looked through the window into his office. The caribou was lying outstretched on the carpet, dead to the world. In static repose apart from its offside hind leg, which waved back and forth, kicking the air as the beast snored. The little professor read on, poring over his folder of detailed lesson notes and plans, his glasses slipping down his nose again and again despite his efforts to keep them in place. Cake crumbs and large, sugary, two-toed hoof prints covered the floor, walls and desk. The scene was not a pretty sight. Anyone watching might have expected the Headmaster to be appalled, struck aghast by the disarray of his private study, horrified by the prospect of scrubbing the walls back to the bricks; but that was not the case. Only a few hours ago he had been dreaming an erstwhile dream of sleeping peacefully when a moist tree fell on his house! Rather, the Headmaster sighed a sigh of deep satisfaction; for all things were relative and nobody knew of the cake he had reserved and hidden in his lockable desk drawer.