I found an extraordinary scene in Miss MacGrammar’s classroom this morning. She was crawling under her desk with a hammer and threading wires through a hole in the woodwork so that she could attach them into place with cable clips. Two elves were fixing what appeared to be large boxes with windows in the front, on top of the desks and another one was lifting the floorboards along the centre of the room. –Apparently this is the prototype for her pupil silencing system! She had also arranged a large red light above the blackboard. I asked what it was for. She struggled out from under the desk, dusty with chalk but glitter eyed, and displayed a keyboard full of buttons. “When I press this one,” she demonstrated, “- it switches on the red light and releases the rear flaps on the head boxes so that they can all leave their places for break or in case of fire or emergency. When I press the number 12, the pupil sitting in desk number 12 is permitted to speak. If I don’t press 12, even if he speaks, no-one will hear him!” She cackled slightly and pushed her head forward like a gleeful tortoise.
“But if no-one can hear him, then presumably he can’t hear you either,” I pointed out.
“Ah,” she said, grinning even more manically, “I thought of that. There is a microphone in each cubicle, so none of them will be able to avoid hearing me if I choose! See!” – And she slid a volume control lever up and down the keyboard with a wild laugh.
“Well, it’s very ingenious,” I admitted. “Thank you for showing me,” and I hastened off to discuss what was to be done about her. The trouble is that we don’t have anyone else to cover subjects like Replying to Letters to Santa.
Nick and I decided to leave her to it for the moment and call an urgent meeting of the senior Father Christmases to decide how we can manage the situation.