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Short Stories for Children of all Ages: Once upon an ordinary school dayOnce upon an ordinary school day

Once upon an ordinary school day, an ordinary boy woke from his ordinary dreams, got out
of his ordinary bed, had an ordinary pee, an ordinary wash, put on his ordinary clothes, and
ate his ordinary breakfast.
The ordinary boy brushed his ordinary teeth, kissed his ordinary mum goodbye and set off
for his ordinary school. And as he walked through the ordinary streets, past the ordinary
shops and across the ordinary roads, the ordinary boy thought his ordinary thoughts.
And when he reached the ordinary school the ordinary boy had an ordinary game of
football with his ordinary friends until the ordinary school bell rang.
The ordinary boy went into his ordinary classroom and sat at his ordinary desk. Then,
something quite out of the ordinary happened…
"Good morning, everybody!" said a quite extraordinary figure bounding into the classroom.
"My name is Mister Gee and I’m your new teacher. Now, you don’t know me and I don’t
know you, so, to help me get to know you, I’ve had an idea…"
As Mister Gee handed out paper he said, "For our first lesson together I want you to listen to some music and I want you to let the music make pictures in your heads. Is that clear?"
And the ordinary children whispered: "He’s barmy!" "He's bonkers!" "He’s as nutty as a fruitcake!" "Music?" "Pictures?" "What’s he on about?" And Mister Gee said, "Shush, just close your eyes, open your ears and listen."
And the music began: a rumbling, rolling, thunderous music that boomed and crashed around the classroom.
Suddenly it stopped. And Mister Gee said:
"Tell me what the music made you think of."
One girl shouted, "Stampeding horses!" Someone else said, "No, it was racing cars!" And the ordinary boy said, "I saw elephants, Sir, and there were hundreds of them!"
"Yes," laughed Mister Gee. "Isn’t it wonderful? Now, I want all of you to try to put what you hear on paper. Start writing!"
And as the music grew and swooped and danced and dived once more, the ordinary boy began to write. He used words he didn’t fully understand and his story made no sense but it didn’t matter and he didn’t care. And he wrote as fast as he could but it would never be fast enough – there was just too much to say. It was as if a dam had burst in his head and words just came flooding out… …and the words were his toys and he was lost, lost in the game – the story-telling game.
And it was extraordinary…
And the other children?
Some wrote stories about giants and some about magic. Some wrote of brave girls and some of boys with lightning-shaped scars on their foreheads.
Some just made stuff up because the music didn’t mean anything to them and Pauline Crawford read The Beano.
Some wrote stories they thought would please the teacher and some became heroes and some became villains and some thought the whole thing was silly and Billy Pearson fell asleep – "Perchance to dream," said Mister Gee.
And at the end of that extraordinary school day, the ordinary boy saw Mister Gee getting into his car.
"Sir," said the ordinary boy, "that was the best lesson ever. I’ve never felt like that before. It was magic!"
"Still think I’m bonkers?" said Mister Gee, smiling. The ordinary boy blushed.
"I can’t wait to read your story tonight," said Mister Gee. "See you tomorrow."
And he disappeared in a cloud of smoke out of the school gates.
And when it was bedtime, the ordinary boy put on his ordinary pyjamas, brushed his ordinary teeth, had his ordinary pee, kissed his ordinary mum and dad, and went to sleep in his ordinary bed…
…and had extraordinary dreams.

Colin McNaughton
Once Upon an Ordinary School Day
London, Andersen Press, 2004

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