The students returned noisily from half term today, and at break I found myself in the middle of a large and amiable group of fifth year boys, who not having seen each other for ten days felt the need to catch up with each other’s gossip, gaming scores and new phones. We have plenty of seats, but they prefer to stand – possibly so that it’s easier to get in my way! I was feeling a bit corralled, being only five foot two, whereas most of them are six feet or above (some are very much above), and it had got to the point where conversations were actually happening over my head, so I snapped, exasperatedly, “For goodness sake, sit down! It’s like being in a thicket.”

They all sat down, quite quickly, and then one of them said very quietly and in quite an aggrieved and plaintive way “Are you calling us thick?”.

So then, of course, I had to sit down and have a conversation about language and meanings (and respect – I would never denigrate them and they should know that). At least they didn’t get grumpy and strop off before I looked up the definition of thicket for them, which appropriately I did on someone’s new phone, but only so he could show off his voice recognition app.

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