I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but I miss doing canteen duty. And my computer. I lost canteen duty when the school moved to using a private operator. I lost my computer when we had a power surge.
My favourite part about canteen duty was all the kindy kids wanting to know what they could get for 10 cents. It drove some of the mums mad, but I loved their hopeful little faces looking up at me.
My favourite part about having an operational computer was being able to write my blogs in the comfort of my own home, instead of begging to use other people’s hardware. The trusty iPad has its pluses, but uploading photos into blogs isn’t one of them.
The computer will hopefully be fixed/replaced soon. But canteen duty is gone forever. I still remember searching for Sprog 1 in the playground on my last day, a sweaty chocolate mousse in my hand, because she’d forgotten to come and see me for her last treat. I couldn’t find her anywhere, so I trudged back inside, put the sweaty mousse back in the fridge …
In honor of canteen duties past, here’s one I wrote about it around this time last year …
“Topic of conversation among the canteen mums yesterday: first memories. Not the eating slugs kind, significant world events. “I remember Robert Kennedy being assassinated,” said one. “I remember the Vietnam War ending,” said another. “Man walking on the moon,” said a third. “Bay of Pigs,” said a fourth. I found this weird on several levels. One, that primary school mums are old enough to remember such things (aren’t we traditionally supposed to be about 25, not 50ish?). Two, that the only significant world event I can remember is Elvis dying. (I decided not to mention it, as I didn’t want to appear frivolous - everyone else was being so serious and political.) I moved the conversation on to technology, more specifically my recollection of colour television arriving. It confused everyone at first, they thought I was talking about getting their first television, which sent them off on an entirely different tangent of memories. When I finally got them back on track, most couldn’t recall the arrival of colour TV. Bizarre, because for me it was momentous. One minute TV was black & white, next it was COLOUR. Awesome. On a roll, I told them about being the first kid in the street to get a video recorder. My adoring grandmother handed me $800 one day to buy one. (I’d been telling her how desperate I was to record my favourite Countdown clips … Footloose, Bananarama, Steve Strange, Split Enz … I still have them all, actually/sadly.). At first, there was only one video hire shop in the whole of Newcastle, in Mayfield of all places. We’d trek over on weekends to get our stack of new releases. Very posh. ”And what about mobile phones,” I remarked, “remember when they were like house bricks?” “Oooh, yes,” agreed one mum. “I went out with a guy who had one, and he kept finding excuses to call people during our date [reflective eye roll]. I thought he was so cool.” We moved on to computers. I can’t believe computers had only just arrived in workplaces when I got my first job. Journalists even got special ”VDT” allowances for using them. Bizarrely, however, when a canteen mum brought up email, I couldn’t remember it arriving. How could I have forgotten that? I love email so so much. Email virtually removed my need to use a telephone, god bless it. I hate phones. I go all stilted and yell into them like a hard-of-hearing granny. But I’ve finally mastered SMS, which is a great advance in my communication skills. OK, so where am I going with all this? Well, a lot has happened in the past 40 years. I’ve lived through interesting times. All the technology the Sprogs take for granted, most of it didn’t even exist when I was a kid. It’s so weird, and I’m going to sound like such an old fogey when I badger the Sprogs about it today.
PS Canteen duty almost killed me yesterday. Five hundred kids, heatwave, 90 minutes of frenetic ice-block sales, lots of complex adding and subtracting in my head … There was also a deeply harrowing moment when the iceblocks ran out, and I was sent for more supplies in the back fridges. I checked every fridge, couldn’t find them. Turns out all the fridges have a five-minute auto-lock on them after opening. So no ice-blocks for five minutes. Five minutes is a long time in a canteen in a heatwave with desperate children clawing at the windows …”