Archive for October, 2014

Lethmachen school children lure parents into a guessing game….










The beginning of a new school year can be a source of anxiety for children, parents and teachers alike. Whilst their mothers and fathers fret over the prices of new uniforms and sports kits, and staff wrestle with their concerns over the curriculum, primary school pupils have to adjust to a new classroom, a new teacher, and new playground rituals. Six weeks of summer holiday have been an impossibly long time, during which many of the old games and fleeting trends have been forgotten, and are now dismissed with nervous laughter. Woe betide any child still clinging to last term’s ideals, for they no longer hold currency. Yet the new rules are soon learnt, even if some find this a more painful process than others, and everything will continue as usual, only slightly different to what it was before. Soon the current intake will grow up and move on, leaving nothing behind except broken chants and faint laughter echoing wistfully across the tarmac. And this is as it should be.

However, the first PTA Evening of the 2014/15 academic year raised some disquieting issues. Dominating the agenda, at the behest of some well respected families, was the school assessment system. It had become evident that, since September, a number of previously ‘high achieving’ children had received poor marks for their homework. Initially staff were called upon to defend their grading methods, until the assembled parents instead directed their anger upon alternative, more convenient scapegoats. New faces are rare in Lethmachen, especially families with children of school age. Yet this term Lethmachen Primary had welcomed two siblings, a brother and sister, who had only recently moved into the catchment area. Yes, the parents accepted that their own children had appeared distracted of late, unable or unwilling to focus on their school work. But had not these problems only become apparent following the arrival of The Greene Children, Robin and Faye? Were these even their real names? None present could agree on where they had come from, they had heard different stories: hints of Eastern Europe or the travelling community.

Slowly people began to remember things, details garnered from the chatter of children and the gossip of dinner ladies. When The Greene Children had come to town, they had brought a new game with them, or rather a new twist on an old familiar favourite. Immediately, effortlessly popular in the playground, during every break or lunch time a dense circle of children would gather around them. Although it was difficult for any outsiders to peek through the crowd and observe precisely what was going on, there was obviously some form of exchange taking place. Even at a distance witnesses overheard the excited squeals of ‘Got…Got…Need!’ rising from those in the inner circle, their voices almost breaking with hysteria as they shrieked that last word. But what was the nature of the precious objects The Greene Children had to offer, clearly so alluring and alien to the children of our small, secluded town? And what gifts were they expecting, and receiving, in return? So far any children lucky enough to be included in the game have sullenly maintained silence over exactly what it was they had already ‘got’ and what it was they so desperately ‘needed’. Thus the only accounts currently available to worried parents are the confused, second hand accounts of envious children excluded from participating themselves. Glimpses of Robin or Faye’s outstretched palm, perhaps a delicious scattering of sweets resting upon it, or else a much sought after toy, or possibly a glistening painted marble? Or was it some unknown breed of insect, or even, as in one particularly fantastical account, a troop of tiny dancing fairies? When later questioned by school authorities, who suspected they had bullied their peers into keeping quiet, The Greene Children insisted they were ‘only being friendly’, implying they were running some benevolent, multi coloured swap shop!

One would have expected ‘The Got Got Need Game’ to have fared no better than other childhood crazes. Most experts assumed it would reach a peak before inevitably fading away, soon to be forgotten for years until resurrected as adult nostalgia. Yet this particular game does not play by the rules and refuses to come to an end. Child psychologists are already concerned over the possible repercussions, fearing that some of those affected may carry this ritual of exchange into adulthood. Try as staff might to break up the circle around The Greene’s, ‘The Got Got Need Game’ remains popular at Lethmachen Primary, lingering over the playground like a miasma. Homework standards continue to suffer, and parents continue to seek help for their children whose behaviour, once active and imaginative, has now turned listless and incommunicative. Over the last few days, we have received reports that some children have slipped into an almost catatonic state, incapable of saying anything but ‘Got…Got…Need’. This is recited in a flat, lifeless monotone, a mantra murmured even when asleep. Allegedly, these advanced symptoms were initially identified about two weeks ago, rife in the less affluent areas of town such as the Drub Street estate. However, this affliction is rumoured to have now infiltrated the most desirable residences, with the first signs that adults are also succumbing. Entire households have been discovered slumped comatose in front of their televisions and latest mobile devices, staring blankly at the flickering screens as they compulsively repeat  to themselves ‘Got …Got…Need…’

Amidst the hyperbole and misinformation, there clearly lies, half concealed, an important story. That is why there is a need for this article, a need to investigate and reveal the truth. And that is why, for the first time, this site is offering to pay for outside contributions that will lead to a resolution of this mystery. There again, perhaps only The Greene Children know.




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