I've spent a lot of my time in classrooms, though I have spent some very worthwhile time on other careers.
But even with the other vocations, I have still amassed enough service to have enjoyed a sabbatical earlier this year for which I am extremely grateful.
In classrooms, there have certainly been plenty of highlights.
The most recent coincided with a (probably age-related) tooth breakage, a clean break at gum level and right in the front. Yes, a big gappy one.
Years of experience have taught me you have to get in first before you are plagued by a succession of questions about what happened. So, I waited for complete silence and then I launched into my explanation to 26 teenagers all looking fixedly at me.
I explained I was a little embarrassed about my gap and told them about the dental disaster that had occurred the day before.
I added just enough detail – what I was biting on, for example – to paint a pretty vivid visual picture of the event. The result was clearly there for them to see and they listened to the explanation with apparent rapt attention.
That done successfully, I managed to encourage them all to put their heads down and start their (silent) work. Which they (silently) did.
A few minutes later, a girl had a valid question so put up her hand and waited for me to respond. She asked her question and, as you would expect, I couldn't answer it without moving my lips and exposing my gap.
As soon as I started speaking, she interrupted:
"OMG! What happened to your tooth?"
Teenagers can obviously feign attention.
Another incident some years earlier – the content will date it pretty accurately – involved my being in full-flight, teacher-led explanation mode. I cannot remember exactly what the content was so I will reinvent the kind of delivery I was doing so you can better imagine the whole thing.
Me: So what the writer is doing here is extending her metaphor, she is building on it. This is no one-off language technique, this is going to develop into something far more special and I hope you can appreciate the ...
Young girl (interrupting at great volume and pointing at my ankles): OMG, you're wearing Pokemon socks!
And, of course, I'm sure I've heard every excuse under the sun.
Me: Why are you late?
Pupil: The bell rang before I got here.
Me: Why haven't I received your homework?
Pupil: Our Wi-Fi was down.
How about this real one from a US kid that I have paraphrased: "Well, our pet parrot flew into the fireplace and caught fire. It then flew around the room and my dad tried to hit it with a frying pan before it could set fire to the curtains. He caught it in the kitchen then put it under the tap because that's what you do with burning parrots. So, with all the fuss, I forgot to do my homework."
One I have never forgotten was proffered in my first year of teaching – in Greymouth as it happens.
Me: Why haven't you done your homework?
Pupil: Please, sir, the railcar ran over my ballpoint.
I can confirm the town did have a railcar service at the time. But that's all. The rest I can only imagine, though a contender is that he intentionally threw his ballpoint onto the railway lines so it would be destroyed and he wouldn't be able to do his homework but would have a "convincing" excuse.
Another possibility was that he made the whole thing up, though, from memory, he wasn't all that creative.
I know about anachronisms so I know I can't have been wearing Pokemon socks for that one.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.