RHS Atrocities; Awkward Encounters – Toby C

Welcome back to another ‘RHS atrocities’, it has been a while. My absence, unfortunately, has not been due to a of a lack of atrocities, but because I needed to prioritize my time, and finish the entire series of ‘Merlin’. Now that I have completed that arduous task, I bring you an atrocity that makes everyone’s skin crawl. An atrocity that can ruin your day. An atrocity that you can’t even plan for. I was ambushed by such an event over the weekend, and I am pushing through my recovering trauma to recount the tale of this latest RHS Atrocity.

Picture the scene; A dashing, endearing boy some may compare to the likes of a youthful Hugh Grant waits excitedly at Manningtree station for a train to take him as far away as possible from the incomplete homework left on his desk at school. This was going to be the best Exiat weekend ever. A whole Saturday (and the usual Sunday) of no teachers. Oh how wrong was I! such wishful thinking! There the handsome young chap (yes, yes, it was me) was enjoying a coffee and the solitude of solo travel, but little did he know it was all about to go wrong.

Suddenly the name ‘Toby’ reaches the pair of unsuspecting ears, and I look up in upmost horror as I realize the situation I am now faced with; Mr Hodson. His face, worn out by years of marking average essays, his head sagging under the knowledge of what a transferred epithet is, his countenance instantly conjuring my own memories of pain, fear and boredom from GCSE English.

‘Hallo Toby! How are you?’. The audacity. The notion of it! Pretending we are civilised humans, acquaintances… friends? Outrageous! We Have been at war on opposing sides for the last 5 years Sir! Fighting over prep deadlines, battling for bubble article extensions, and scrapping over the “correct” socks to wear at school. But no, this was neutral territory, a public place, there were civilians around, and we needed to act civil. We both had parts to play, and we played them well. I had no choice but to acknowledge his jovial greeting with one equally as false and flattering.

And so the dance begins. We feign interest in each other’s day, we laugh at badly executed jokes. We both search the surroundings desperately for an escape. Finally, an opportunity arises. The train approaches and I can respectfully be on my way. However, fate had different plans. I made my way towards a carriage, but Mr Hodson had the same idea, and before we knew it, we were advancing to the same set of doors. The dread set in. I could see it in his face too. We couldn’t keep up the act much longer. I had to get away. I made a bold and daring move and downed the last sips of my coffee, allowing me to run back to the platform and throw away my cup. By the time I turned around Mr. Hodson had advanced well into the Carriage; he understood the assignment. I ran for the doors further down the train and entered a Hodson free, teacher free zone.

I slumped down into the first free seat I saw, recovering from my ordeal, grateful to have escaped. I turn to see who I am sat next too, when Mr. Lockyer’s gaze meets my own.

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