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Here are two stories. The first one I read, the second I know is true ‘cos I was there.

John Steinbeck superb American author (Grapes of Wrath; Of Mice and Men and many other classics) also wrote a travel Book called “Travels with Charlie”. Charlie being his dog.

One day Steinbeck was giving a series of newspaper interviews. He was asked by one of the journalists, “What now for Charlie. He has pissed on the giant redwoods, he has urinated in Trafalgar Square, he has pointed his percy at the Sydney Opera House, done his business behind the Great Wall even made Golden Showers on streets of Pattaya. What now for the illustrious dog?”

“Yes”, said the Great Man with a misty look in his eyes, “I’ve thought about this. I suppose he could always teach.”


At university I had a mate from Newcastle called Mike. When we finished our degrees (history) there weren’t many doors open for us in 1969. One was teaching, the other was the hippy trail. Mike, to his great regret chose teaching. He had very little equipment or personality for this profession. He stuttered, was shorter than most and only really started communicating when on the terraces at Newcastle United. Problem was every other word was a swear word. Not really a guarantee for success at King Georges Grammar School.

I’d lost touch with Mike over the years, when someone contacted me and told me Mike had contracted Parkinson’s Disease. I visited him a few times, but he was failing fast although persisting, for some masochistic reason, the hopeless job of enlightening 4y.

Mike died last year. All the old boys met again at his funeral, swapping balding stories and admiring pot bellies. But like ninnies we all cried through the funeral service. That is until we saw Mikes epitaph paid for by the Geordie lad himself:

“On the whole, it’s better than teaching”

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