Amy Welborn describes a conversation she overheard by two kindergarten teachers about the demands of modern beurocracy.
It reminded me of this old one-voice radio skit…
NURSERY SCHOOL – FREE ACTIVITY PERIOD
A Monologue by Joyce Grenfell
Oh, hello, Mrs Hingle. I’m so glad you could come along. As you see, we’re just having a Free Activity Period, and in our Free Activity Period each little individual chooses his or her own occupation. Some are painting, some are using plasticine, and some work at a sand-table. We feel that each little one must get to the bottom of his or her self and find out what he really wants of life.
Who is making that buzzing noise?
Well, stop it please, Neville.
Hazel, dear, come away from the door and get on with your plasticine.
I love to see them so happily occupied, each one expressing his
George – don’t do that…
Now, children, I want you all to say ‘Good morning’ to Mrs Hingle.
Good morning, Mrs Hingle.
No, Sidney, not good-bye. Mrs Hingle has only just come. You don’t
want her to go away yet?
No, she hasn’t got a funny hat on, that’s her hair.
So sorry, Mrs Hingle. Sometimes we ARE just a trifle outspoken. We
try to encourage honesty, only sometimes it doesn’t always…
And this is my friend Caroline, and Caroline is painting such a
lovely red picture, aren’t you, Caroline? I wonder what it is?
Perhaps it’s a lovely red sunset, is it? Or a big red orange?
It’s a picture of Mummy! For a moment I thought it was a big red
orange, but now you tell me, I can see it is a picture of Mummy.
Aren’t you going to give her any nose?
It’s so interesting the way they see things.
Sidney, don’t blow at Edgar, please.
I know I said you could choose what you are going to do, but you
cannot choose to blow at Edgar.
Because it isn’t a good idea.
Yes, I know it makes his hair go up and down, but I don’t want you to do it. Now get back to the sand-table, there’s a good boy.
Yes, there is room, Sue; there’s heaps of room. Just move up a bit.
Susan! We never bite our friends.
Say you are sorry to Sidney. You needn’t kiss him.
No, you needn’t hug him. Susan, PUT HIM DOWN.
No fisticuffs, please.
She hasn’t made any teeth marks, has she, Sidney?
Well then… don’t fuss.
Sometimes our little egos are on the big side, I’m afraid…
Hazel, dear, I don’t want to have to say it again: please come away from the door.
Why can’t you?
Well, you shouldn’t have put your finger in the key hole, and then it wouldn’t have got stuck.
Children, there is no need for everyone to come and have a look just because poor Hazel has caught her finger in the keyhole. Back to your work, please.
No, Sidney, I don’t think it is stuck in there for ever and ever.
I don’t for one minute think we will have to get the Fire Brigade to come and take the door down to set her free. You do exaggerate,
Well, if we haven’t got her finger out by dinner-time she’ll have to have it here.
And her tea.
And her supper and stay the night.
But we are going to get it out, aren’t we, Hazel?
David. Turn round, please, David. Right round.
Use your hanky, please, David.
And now wipe.
Thank you, David.
Hazel, why did you put your finger in the keyhole?
To see if it would go in!
Well, now let’s see if we can get it out!
Who is making that buzzing noise?
I know you are a busy bee, but boy busy-bees don’t buzz. Only bee
I can still hear you, Neville.
I should think so.
He’s such a musical child, and one doesn’t want to discourage him.
Sidney, take that paint-brush out of your ear and give it back to
Yes, you do want it back, Lavinia. You like painting.
Yes, you do.
We’re hoping she is going to take to it soon.
Now then, Hazel, have you tried wiggling it?
You know, Mrs Hingle, this child’s finger really is caught in the
keyhole… I think the Fire Brigade are the best in an emergency.
Yes, there is a telephone – at the end of the passage. Would you? Oh, that is good of you. I’ll stay here and hold the fort and prepare the children. Thank you so much.
Children, I don’t want anyone to get excited, but kind Mrs Hingle has gone to see if we can get one of those clever men from the Fire Brigade to come and help us get Hazel’s finger out…
Oh, you’ve got it out, Hazel. Well done. That’s lovely.
IT’S ALL RIGHT, MRS HINGLE – SHE’S GOT IT OUT.
Sidney. You are not to go near the keyhole.
Can you get it out?
I SPOKE TOO SOON, MRS HINGLE…