Imagine all those times when you've been sitting in a hot, stuffy classroom on a beautiful summer day. The sun is beating mercilessly through a plate glass window, and your school uniform is uncomfortable. Just on the other side of that window you can see the school field, waiting for you to sprawl about on it and make daisy chains. The third years are supposed to be doing athletics, but the teacher can't be everywhere at once. The kids who are supposed to be practising long jump are mucking about in the sand pit. A few leggy girls saunter round the track and break into a trot when Miss is looking.
And there you are, hot, sticky, and bored, bored, so bored you want to scream. You don't care what the German word for potato salad is, if you ever do get to Germany you're not going there to eat potato salad. As for the grammar, you lost track of that two terms ago and you now do your homework by taking a calculated guess. There is sweat on the palms of your hands and all you can think of is a cold drink.
'Margaret McAllister, is there anything very fascinating out of that window?'
'No, Miss,' I say, because I daren't tell her the truth.
Tony, as most of you know, has just retired as a Methodist minister. All Methodist ministers are required to go twice a year to a huge general meeting called Synod. I've never been to a Synod, but I'm told that they have their inspiring moments. That's when somebody says or does something exciting, but it happens so rarely that the Chairman faints and has to be carried out on a stretcher and they talk about it for years afterwards. Like a scene in a nightmare, there's no way out of Synod. They say you can only get an exemption if you've died the previous week.
Retired ministers can still go to Synod, lucky old things. Tony, who would rather stand in the main road and juggle hand grenades, won't.
Retired ministers are SUPPOSED to go to Synod. And if they don't? At this point, I want to put my hands on my hips and my head on one side and say 'well. whatcha gonna do 'bout it?'
This morning, I was in enjoying the sun in the conservatory, reading the newspaper, when Tony came in. He looked out at the garden, remarked happily on what a lovely day it is, and went to make himself a coffee.
"You know what?" he said. "Today's Synod."