Surviving School

Apart from messing about with Bunsen burners, what else did you play around with at school to annoy your classmates or, if you were brave, the teacher?

Bunsen Burner
Bunsen Burner

Me? Well, I went through comprehensive school in Wales during the 80s, and there was that annoying green slime putty (which you could set ‘time delay’ charges on the ceiling and wait for them to lose their grip and splat onto someone’s head during the lesson), spud guns (if you could nick the potatoes without annoying your Mam too much), IMG_3693cap guns and cap rockets (into which you’d try and squeeze as many caps as possible in order to get the loudest possible ‘explosion’ when you threw it, although probably not in the confines of the classroom!), wet paper balls fired from out of Bic pen cases or pencil toppers launched at people’s heads.

Pencil Toppers
Pencil Toppers

The odd stink bomb strategically placed under the teachers desk or chair leg was guaranteed to clear the classroom and undoubtedly get you detention and/or lines. Whoopee cushions and fart spray, from the joke shop in Porthcawl, were also good for a few laughs but they’d get confiscated if you were caught, and that was just a waste of your pocket money. IMG_3695There are probably loads of others that I’ve forgotten but what I do remember is the wonderful book that helped me to survive school.

So, in celebration of World Book Day 2016 I thought I would discuss the book that helped me through school in many different ways and that book is The Whizzkid’s Handbook by Peter Eldin.

The Whizzkid's Handbook Cover
The Whizzkid’s Handbook Cover
The Whizzkid's Handbook Back Cover
The Whizzkid’s Handbook Back Cover







Now when I say it got me through school I don’t necessarily mean that in the literal sense as it certainly wasn’t one of my official educational schoolbooks but it definitely helped me a lot. Whether it was making a ‘Teacher-Distractor,’ learning to fire the ‘Classroom Shooter’

Teacher Distractor
Teacher Distractor
Classroom Shooter
Classroom Shooter








or simply just cheering myself up by learning new definitions such as these classics from the handbook:

BACTERIA – the rear door of a self-service café

BIPLANE – what the pilot says as he jumps out

DENIAL – a river in Egypt

INFANTRY – baby soldiers

JIGSAW PUZZLE – a pastime invented by a Scotsman who dropped a pound note in a mincer

SCHOOL – a place where they teach you things you’ll never need to know when you leave

Looking back at my copy of The Whizzkid’s Handbook brought back some amazing memories from my childhood and a good book, even if it is pure nonsense, can stay with you for life.

School Library
School Library

World Book Day encourages children to drag themselves away from their touch devices (and the numerous youtube videos of someone opening a Kinder egg) and read the wonderful joined-up words that some amazing author (who was eventually saved from being mentally unstable, penniless and stressed out) has finally got published.

Let's eat, kids - Saving lives with Grammar
Let’s eat, kids – Saving lives with Grammar

Reading (and writing) is a gift that should be given to all children as learning correct grammar could save their lives one day and I think the book tokens given out by participating schools is a great way to encourage them to read.

In fact, most of the children celebrating World Book Day today will have attended school dressed up as a character from one of their favourite stories but that depends of course on whether the parents remembered…

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 14.36.06


The Whizzkid’s Handbook by Peter Eldin, copyright Eldin Editorial Services, first published in Armada in 1979 by Fontana Paperbacks, London.

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