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Sunday, April 14, 2013

An Eleven Plus Fire Eater

What do parents do if their child announces that he or she want to be a fire eater? Does this mean that all that hard work towards the eleven plus, all that anxiety about grades in the grammar school and finally all that expense towards the geography degree (that was followed by a Masters) is to be thrown away?

My child, with a grammar school education, and two degrees is to become a street performer? How can that be? What can we do? What can we say? Should we say something?

We know that there must be an element of pre-selection before a job is offered. But pre-selection for fire eaters?

Consider this likely scenario. The fire-eater-teacher is sitting on a box outside the kitchens of a well- known hotel. The interviewer has your child’s CV in his or her hands. Your child, properly dressed for an interview in a smart suit kneels reverently down.  There are three piles of papers on a smaller box. (Possibles, promising and rejects.)

The interviewer, who has seen it all before, but is highly trained and remarkably successful, starts with a brave opening gambit.

“Did you used to play with matches as a child?”

“No, my mum and dad would not let me.”

“Have you ever set anything on fire?”

“No, not really, but I used to blow out my birthday candles.”

“Good, good, that is a positive response. I see you did the eleven plus.  Can you solve this anagram?”

(The interviewer writes three words on a piece of paper. “Tar free Ife”.)

The ex eleven plus candidate, ex grammar school pupil and ex university graduate smiles and writes two words. The interviewer offers thanks, and is thanked, and the candidate is told to wait a few days.

(The parents now wait anxiously for this part of the story.)

“Did you solve the anagram?”

“I hope so. I wrote `fire eater’. “

“Was that correct?”

“It must be after all I was successful at the eleven plus!”

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