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Hard to believe that I have reached the point in my career where I am now being asked to give speeches at retirements.
I admit to being absolutely filled with dread when asked to speak at the retirement of four languages teachers, one of whom had a profound influence on my career. Not to mention that I was going to be in the company of the teachers with whom I had gone through my teaching adolescence with. The teachers who very probably saw me at my early stages wobbling about like a baby giraffe. Not really knowing if it was new year or new york. The teachers who seemed so glam, sophisticated and who used to roll their eyes whenever I recounted stories of a crazy weekend of adventures at the dancin’.
So where do you start? Well apart from the gin bottle and pray everyone else is well oiled before you start speaking?
I did my research, talked to colleagues and friends and put on my lucky pants.
I met up with a few of the old gang for an apero beforehand. It was lovely. In fact, it was really lovely. Despite the fact I had not seen a number of them for years, the chat was great and the laughs aplenty. The old relationships were resumed, I felt 22 again and they were again laughing at my escapades. I found myself with new members of the department that I had trained – who were let in to some of my antics as a new teacher. The less we talk about that the better.
We met up with the rest of them and if retirement makes you look that good, sign me up now. Here were these elegant women and men who still managed to make me feel like I was a burst couch. (Despite the fact it was a 10/10 for the shoes – a gold sparkly pair of KGs) A few eyebrows were raised as we updated on jobs and where everyone was. Yes, even a scheme girl can do well you know. “you’ve come a long way from the days you were skipping out at 3.30″
You are right, I have. What do you don’t know is that when you came in 8.45, I’d been up since 6am so get to my desk for 7.45 to get the disco on at the top end of the corridor.
The speeches were not scheduled till after the meal and as it always had been – the meal was a long affair, and I just lined up the grappa to have if I survived.
My former boss, mentor and friend was first up – as ever, accomplished and with a few notes on her phone.
Then it was me….7 pages in pencil. Yes, really. It’s the translator in me. First version, scored out bits, arrows, different colours and handwriting only I could read. (I should have worked for the Secret Service) It was a joy to see the faces as I was able to quote from references, interviews and friends. We discovered some special talents that they had forgotten about – guitar playing, running, netball, etc…..
I was particularly chuffed to use the line ” If you want to blame anyone then look no further – two of you interviewed me and let me in……”
To talk about the impact and legacy these four amazing women have left on teachers and children alike was great but it did leave me wondering about who fills that gap? I am biased, I know that – but the enthusiasm these women have always had has not left them and they leave a massive hole in the teaching tapestry. They did come a long way. And have a long way to go in their new adventures.
For the record, I didn’t cry and the grappa was welcome.
Then we went to the dancin’ till about 2.15am – oh yes we did. As did the oldest retiree in the group. You can take the girl out the department……..