The Way We Lied

And while the mothers cooed over the dribbling baby and waited for their little broods, Sarah thought about the woman she had seen in the charity shop and considered whether she should take action. She did not want to be seen as narrow minded and petty, nor did she like to appear to be constantly criticising and undermining the school’s decisions. She liked to be able to make constructive, positive comments. However, in this instance, she wondered whether a promiscuous, tattooed sculptor was a good role model for young girls. Sarah’s daughter Amy was not a talented young artist, so she would not be deprived if the visit was cancelled and the school was fortunate in attracting many other successful and well known speakers during the course of the year.
Sarah decided to speak to the art teacher first and as the girls flowed into the arms of the waiting mothers, she told Amy to wait in the hall while she went in search of Mrs Edginton. She found her pinning some recent artistic efforts on the walls of the art room and after complimenting her on the encouragement she gave the girls, she launched into the purpose of her visit.
“Some of the parents I was just chatting to were saying that they were concerned about the planned talk by Mary Reid, the sculptor. They’re worried about the kind of work she does and what she will say to the girls.”
Mrs Edginton looked startled. “Oh I don’t think they need to worry. Mary will just be showing the girls a variety of pieces and demonstrating the different materials that can be used in sculpture. You know, casting in bronze as opposed to working with stone.”
“It sounds great,” Sarah said enthusiastically. “Just right. But… and I don’t want to put a damper on things, but people are asking whether she’s the right kind of image for a girls’ school. She has got a somewhat colourful reputation. I’m sure you’ve heard. And some of the parents are saying that it’s not really appropriate for the girls to be lectured by someone with a tattoo.”
“Oh that. It’s nothing. Really nothing. I’ve seen it.” Mrs Edginton blushed. “It’s the tiniest thing. Oh dear, but if you think people are going to make a fuss…..well, perhaps we shouldn’t…..”
“No, don’t be silly. You know how people talk,” Sarah said, with a cheerful smile. “ If you think she will be good for the girls you should go ahead. Don’t worry about it.”
But Mrs Edginton was frowning. “Well, just to be sure, I’ll talk it over with the headmistress. I wouldn’t want to upset everyone.”
“Good idea,” said Sarah brightly. “In fact I’m popping into Mrs Lee’s office next, so I’ll mention it. Kill two birds with one stone that way.” And she left immediately, her heels clicking as she walked down the corridor, leaving Mrs Edginton shuffling pastel drawings of vases of flowers.
Sarah almost skipped down the stairs, humming with satisfaction, then popped her head round the door of the secretary’s office. “Hello Rachel, do you think Mrs Lee has a moment?”
She was ushered through and in minutes was sitting before Mrs Lee, who was offering her hot tea in a porcelain cup. “I really don’t want to be a killjoy, Mrs Lee, but some of the parents are making noises about the artist who is meant to visiting later in the term and I hate to have to say it, but I heard a most unpleasant rumour a few days ago.”
Mrs Lee had not been in post very long and although she was well supported by experienced staff and a most capable deputy head, she did not yet have sufficient confidence in her own judgment to brush aside parental concerns. She listened intently to all Sarah had to say and raised her eyebrows when the tattoo was mentioned. Finally all she said was, “I shall have a little word with Mrs Edginton. We haven’t quite finalised all the term’s activities yet.”
And Sarah left the school feeling satisfied, knowing that her words had been heard and that bohemian behaviour had been prevented from besmirching the innocent pupils of Bluehills.


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