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Friday, 31 July 2009

I can't believe they put me in charge of children...

From our regular correspondent, Uncle Bellend:

For some unfathomable reason, the organisers of Whitwell Primary School's summer play scheme decided (in their infinite wisdom) that I was suitable to supervise a group of twenty-odd 7-10 year olds. It's volunteer work, so to make it more exciting I decided to conduct a little psychological experiment – think Lord of the Flies meets the Milgram experiment.

We spent the first day playing football and rounders, and a natural leader emerged: Ryan*, aged 9, was intelligent, athletic and confident. I took him to one side on the morning of the second day and told him that I was putting him in charge. He would have to subordinate to me if necessary, but apart from that he was given free rein. And a stick. A hollow metal pole was his leader's staff, handily doubling up as a tool with which to beat the other children if they stepped out of line. Ryan immediately appointed two deputies – Sam* and Luke* - and set about his task with relish. Sam and Luke were very similar in some ways; they were both popular, big for their age and less intelligent that Ryan.

The early results were fascinating. I was ready to move in to quell insurrection if necessary, but Ryan and his men had it all under control. When they wanted to play football, the group had to play football. If they fancied a game of cricket, they played cricket. One boy, Jamie*, stood up to them on the third day, but his dissent was ruthlessly crushed. In fact, I had to step in to prevent him getting a real beating! I told him to keep quiet, and if anybody asked, he got hit in the face playing hockey. Twice. In any case, I doubt his parents would believe him if he told the truth; he's an odd child.

Today was the fifth day, and observing from a distance I saw Ryan and Luke creating a flag, a white stretch of material with their initials stencilled in blue: L R S, with the R raised above the other two. Sam appeared to be creating some sort of pen or cage out of chicken wire, perhaps to keep Jamie in. Is the power going to their heads? It's absolutely enthralling to watch and there's still a week to go; who knows what will happen?

* names have been changed.
** the reality in which this is based has also been changed; the entire event took place in Inner Reality.

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