Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Trim Trail

We have some wooden hurdles at the school. You'll have seen them if you've ever been to a council run park which has an "adventure element" to it. They are low set and brown. Quite thick, and very dull looking. They are spaced around the field and hopefully referred to as the "trim trail".

Yesterday was unseasonably sunny and my team teacher said to me "It's such a lovely day, I don't want to do Gymnastics, I think I'll take the kids outside to use the trim trail"

I said "Not the flippin' trim trail, we're supposed to be doing football" but secretly I wanted in on the trim trail action.

I don't really like football. I don't really know how to teach it. I usually do a couple of complicated exercises with a hoop and some balls and stare off at the horizon, aching for three o' clock.

The trim trail seemed like a good alternative.

I gave the Trim Trail some more thought. I wasn't really too sure what the Trim Trail was. Maybe it was more than just a bunch of logs dotted miserably around the field. Perhaps the Trim Trail had a deep allure for the children. After all, wasn't Team Teacher excited about it?

Team Teacher is quite sporty, and certainly gets much more excited about teaching sport and p.e. than I ever do, so I got excited.

Maybe the Trim Trail was the future of P.E. lessons, one of those activities that I could keep up my sleeve for the hard times when failure closes it's deathlike claws around the brains of my class, when they become zombie eyed and lacklustre, when every request for a spelling summons a frustrated cry from my desk, maybe then I could slap down my hands and shout "right everybody, lets do the trim trail" and the children would throw their books in the air and shout "yay, trim trail, trim trail, trim trail, trim, jump it like a monkey, better than the gym"

As we collected our children after lunch, I sidled up to team teacher. "You know the trim trail?"

"Oh, now you want to do the "flippin' trim trail" do you? I thought you were supposed to be doing football,"

"Yes, I am a dick. Sorry. Now, about the trim trail, what do I do with it?"

"I'll send two children from my class last year to show you"

So now it's 2:14. The children have been whipped up to a frenzy by my regular screams of "trim trail" during the previous hour of doing "I am the music man, I come from far away..." and "Heads shoulders knees and toes" and "Grand Old Duke Of York".

All the way through their getting changed I've chanted the trim trail rhyme, which initially caused slight consternation, then amusement, then excitement and finally an air of indulgent boredom.

After two laps around the field, with me chanting "nearly at the Trim Trail" we arrive.

Oscar is shouting out uncontrollably. Daisy-Jo is hopping from foot to foot with a grimace on her face. Adrian is crouching down and jumping up in the air, like one of those popper spring insects we used to get at christmas. I could go on - all the children are so excited by the trim trail that they have all developed their own, special trim trail tic.

"So class, here we are, the...sorry can't hear you, the..."


The head pokes his master out of the school to see exactly what we're screaming about. "It's OK sir, we're just a little excited about the trim trail" I shout, raising my eyebrows and nodding at the class as I say "trim trail". The head frowns, shakes his head and walks back into the school.

"RIGHT CLASS, This is, indeed, the famous trim trail,"

We are standing in front of a log. It is on a couple of brackets and stands about 10 inches from the ground.

"Are you ready class? Rose and Peter will now demonstrate the MIGHTY TRIM TRAIL"

I shake my fists excitedly at my sides. Rose and Peter approach the log. I start slow clapping, the class join in. I shout at them to stop clapping and ask Rose and Peter to talk us through what we can do on this part of the trim trail.

After watching Rose and Peter wobble on one leg for about a minute I start to panic.

"What else can we do on this part of the trim trail? Put your hand down Adrian, I'm asking Rose and Peter. Rose? Peter? No? O.K. Adrian, what were you going to say?"

"You could jump over it,"

"Yes, brilliant!" I scream in a hyper excited voice. "You could JUMP on it. OK, Adrian, count to 10 for me"

Adrian starts counting and I start furiously jumping over the log, as fast as I can. I feel like Rocky but probably look like fat club. There is a problem though, Adrian is not counting in seconds, he is counting my jumps.


The class have started exchanging concerned looks at each other.


"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1"

I am jumping like a man possessed. As fast as I can. The words "Positive fitness role model" are repeating themselves inside my head. I believe that the children are staring at me in total awe, thinking "One day, I'd like to jump like that,"

I jump and jump and jump.


I eat low G.I. food. A lot of it. Most lunchtimes I eat this soup made of lentils, carrots, onions, celery and garlic. It is so thick the spoon stands up in it. When it comes out of the microwave the other members of staff laugh at me. I eat loads of it. About a housebrick's worth. It sits in my stomach. It causes dreadful and only just controllable wind.

I lose control.


Just a little one. A little zipper. The type you'd get away with on a bus, or in the hustle and bustle of cleaning up the class.

It is a perfectly still, hot day. That's why we're at the trim trail.

Every child in the class is staring at me.

In silence.

"Whoops, I seem to have gotten so excited that I farted," I say.

10 minutes later, children are still snorting to themselves as they jump over the logs, pointing at me and holding their noses and laughing out loud when I walk past them.

"Positive Fitness Role Model"

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