Muck-up Day

Items discovered on Middle Island where Black Jack Anderson had his hideout.

One of the reasons why I love going in to schools and talking to students about my books is that random and unexpected things so often happen on these occasions.

This week, as some of you will know, was the last week of their secondary school careers for most of the Year 12s in Western Australia. And while every school has its own rules about such things, they nearly all have what is commonly knows as ‘Muck-up Day’.

Quite unaware of this I arrived in the school library for my scheduled author talks to the Year 7 students. I had just launched into my first speel about Black Jack Anderson when there was a lot of shouting and running outside the wrap-around glass wall of the library. The sixty Year 7 students, who were sitting with their backs to this huge expanse of glass, saw the stunned look on my face, leapt out of their seats and rushed to press their faces to the window. We all watched in amazement as about twenty young men, in the most colourful and eccentric costumes you can imagine, raced in a ragged line across the grass and down to the bottom of the hill, shrieking at the tops of heir voices. When they reached the edge of the grass they didn’t seem to know what to do next. They  bunched together and milled around uncertainly until they saw that several teachers were hurrying towards them. That set them off again and, like a mob of sheep, when one broke out and ran back up the hill the others followed.

Inside the room with me there was a lot of pointing, laughing and exclaiming as the students tried to pick out their heavily disguised  older brothers, cousins and friends amongst the mob which was now corraled by half a dozen teachers. In spite of their brief taste of freedom the breakaways did not look unhappy to be brought back under control. Sometimes you can have too much freedom!

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