The Hawaiian Shirt


I learned too late in life that power is an aphrodisiac.

Nine weeks from now I will be turning 50. Half a century. The big five-oh. Never mind the gentle talk of middle age and golden years, dear readers, I am a realist enough to know that 50 is old. There is no other way to wrap it up or re-package it. 50 is old, 60 is piss yourself old and 70 is dead.

I trawled Ebay this week in search of Hawaiian shirts. If I am going to be old I am going to dress as I like, not as others expect. I am going to adopt the official standing of an eccentric. Others might say Odd Ball, I am going to use the term eccentric.

Today the receptionist knocked on the door of my glass box sheepishly confiding that a parent was waiting to see me. As a preamble to this story, I must stress, dear readers that it is not my policy to see parents who just turn up. Frequently it is an emotive situation and it is far better to book an appointment and see the parent when they have thought through their issue.  It is my policy not to see parents off the cuff. But today, for some unknown reason, I agreed that I would see the parent the receptionist referred to as she called through the small gap in the door to the glass box.

The mother entered, apparently having applied a deep and generous portion of red lipstick only minutes before. She sat down in a chair across from my desk. I recognised her as the mother of one of the 9 year old boys. She proceeded to tell me that her boy was being picked on by some other lads and requested that I keep an eye on him for her.

She was pleasant and friendly and continued chatting about her life with our 9 year old pupil.

“You know I am alone and that my husband is dead?” I didn’t know and told her so. “Yes he is dead and it is just my son and me. He is all I have. I would love to re-marry if I could find the right man.”

By now I was beginning to fidget with the pile of pending paperwork on my desk. This mother had made her point and I would pass on the child’s name on our playground “Watch List.” The meeting had reached the limit of its usefulness.

I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly at first. So I had to stop and ask her to repeat what she had just said.

“I would like to meet a man like you. Do you have someone?”

I stood up and walked to the door of my glass box, the same one the receptionist had peered through minutes earlier. It is an old trick when you want a meeting to conclude, walk to the door and put one hand on the handle. The person in the room naturally moves to the door and out of the room. I have used it dozens, maybe hundreds of times down the years.

“ I am married, I have….loads of kids,” I sputtered.

The mother stood up and moved towards the door, “Shame, I would like a big man like you.”

Hours later, back home, the Hawaiian shirts I had ordered at the weekend had arrived in the post. I try them on to a loud chorus of disapproval from my family. “Hey baby,” I call out in my best Magnum PI-inspired accent, “I just might wear one to work.”

“You wouldn’t,” one of my daughters nervously asks.

“It is my new style. I am an eccentric,” I offer as I do an over-elaborate catwalk turn in the middle of the floor. I slink up alongside Mrs Head who I remember has a penchant for Tom Selleck. “And power is an aphrodisiac, baby.”

Keep the Faith,

The Head

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