Town mouse gives a school talk

We’ve had children at our youngest son’s Church of England primary school for 14 years. In all that time, I’d never actually witnessed a lesson in progress, until, on Friday, I talked to Charlie’s class on the subject of a book, War Memorial, I have coming out this October. As this is his last term, it was then or never.

I’d been fully briefed in the protocol. ‘Never,’ Charlie had said, ‘call any of my friends by their names. You’re bound to get them wrong.’ The possibility of family embarrassment isn’t the only reason that 11 year olds make an intimidating audience; such is their appetite for knowledge, you hardly feel you can live up to the brief.

The book is about a war memorial in Devon: I’ve traced the stories of the people named on it. But I began my talk with some observations on war memorials in general. I thought I might catch the pupils out by showing the one in the local church, but they were ahead of me-and knew that, in 1941, the vicar had been killed when fire-watching there.

Later, they asked pertinent questions, and I left wondering what the end of term would bring. Andy Murray has shown that grown men may cry. I predict tears among the boys and girls of Year 6. And some parents, too.