Saturday, November 12, 2016

Miles From Nowhere

I did a very naughty thing yesterday: I slipped out of the office and went for a walk in the woods. Traditionally, teachers are only supposed to leave the office to give a class or go for a coffee. Sometimes, however, I think it’s good to break with tradition, don’t you? And this is where I ended up:

Four o’clock on Friday afternoon, and I had the whole park to myself!  For a fleeting moment, I felt rather guilty: Was I the only person in the town who had decided to knock off early for the weekend? Supposing an irate client called and I wasn’t there to listen to their complaints? What if a poor student needed to consult me urgently about which preposition to use in their report? Well, it was too late now and I would have to live with my reckless decision for the rest of my life. Besides, I was enjoying myself; all the more so because not a soul was to be seen:


My one and only companion in the park was a rather tame dragon who, according to local legend, used to terrify the locals – taking a keen interest in newly weds in particular –, and whence the town, Mondrag√≥n, takes its name.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? If the offending beast had been a zombie instead of a dragon, the town where I work would have been called Monzombie, and my school would most likely have been called Monzombie Lingua. 

Well, I’ve known quite a few dragons in my time, all of them far scarier than this one. At a guess, the actual dragon was somewhat bigger than the council’s budget could stretch to. I paid Mr. Dragon my respects, then drifted over to the far end of the park to enjoy a breath-taking view through the trees of Udalaitz, the mountain overlooking Mondrag√≥n.

Five minutes later, I was back in town, taking in our litter-strewn streets and lop-sided towers. That’s one of the many reasons why I love the Basque Country so much: no matter how big an eyesore you might find yourself in, simply head for the hills and, in a matter of minutes, you’ll be thinking to yourself, “Eat your heart out, Julie Andrews!”


Colin hadn’t waited to be introduced again. Instead, he ran, and he ran, and he ran. He was headed for the woods, wherever they were. In the films, the fugitive always ended up in the woods sooner or later. There was usually a river in there somewhere, too. So was this how Harrison felt with Tommy’s men on his trail?

Having run 25 miles up and down corridors every day for the past 25 years, Colin was delighted to discover that he was in far better shape than he had ever imagined; or looked. Eat your heart out, Dustin! Indeed, it was one of life’s best-kept secrets that most teachers – lazy sods excepted – are Olympian athletes just waiting to be discovered. That said, most of them would rather be left alone to finish their pint in peace.

dayrealing, Chapter 41, “Don't Fear The Reaper”

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