Why does time have to fly by so quickly? One moment you’re waving off those arrogant, smelly kids for six weeks of bliss. The next? They’ve all come trooping back in. Slightly taller, with orange skin and the self-satisfying glow of having been to their first BBBQ. That’s a ‘Boozy Barbecue’ for anyone who cares. All the rage in Leith, where I teach. Mentioned in that song. Let’s take those early, eager weeks of learning and expand their idiotic brains. This week some moving lessons learned.

1) English

Let’s start off with a simple subject shall we? That of English. From Chaucer to Shakespeare and Hardy to James (E.L that is, certainly not P.D!), studying literature is like digging into a jewel mine. Opening the Cave Of Wonders, revealing a pantheon of treasures untold. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, all sparkling, enchanting, tempting. A book is a flying carpet to faraway lands. Be them Narnia, Hogwarts or just the bedroom. A thrilling pastime to entertain. Just like cricket surely?

For last week we witnessed an adventure into lands unknown. Or at least unexplored in over a year. England finally won a test match series! Not since sneaking past the West Indies in September 2017, have English players tasted the sweet sip of a champagne win. We’ve witnessed dismal displays in Australia and New Zealand and a tie with Pakistan. But finally Root and his band of merry men have stormed the Indian castle. And what a saga of a series this has been.

There was the edgy Edgbaston, lovely Lords, tripe Trent Bridge and now amazing Ageas Bowl. Two thrashings and two close endings, have demonstrated how great test match cricket truly is. The Ageas Bowl was an epic in itself, swinging this way and that. England collapsed in true form, before heroic Curran blasted 78. Despite Pujara’s mighty stand, it was another bearded wonder, Moeen who bamboozled. Efforts from several batsmen then took England’s total to 271; a thrilling chase of 245. As Kohli fell, English arms raised in triumphant acclaim. India were short by 61.

English is full of wondrous tales. None more so than this fourth test match. The dragon of India have been slain and England beat the number one side in test cricket.

As Shakespeare once said,

‘If cricket be the food of love, play on.’

2) Hairdressing

Four back and sides and a trim on the front please. That’s the phrase I declare upon entering my local barbers. Emerging thirty minutes later, I expect to see local paparazzi snapping my pic for the next cover of Vogue magazine. Such is the sexiness of the hair. It is sharp. But not as sharp as Joe Root’s, who this week made the schoolboy error of having a mate trim his lid. Ben Stokes curled his burly fingers around a shaver and, well shaved nearly everything off. Root had the appearance of a first time convict. Yet had to mutter appreciative words as Stokes held a mirror up to his nape. After all, you don’t want to upset a man with a razor in hand.  Least of all Ben Stokes. Allegedly!

Whilst Root’s was closely cropped, Moeen Ali’s return to the national team, coincided with a return to his scruffy, longer hair. Gone was the bald head of last year. And indeed gone were the nervous looking balls he chucked up in Oz. For Moeen swaggered in with a confidence around his new look. With cherry in hand he picked off the Indian batsmen. At one stage he had figures of 4-8; Sharma blocking out his hat trick attempt. It’s safe to say Mo turned the game on its head with his first innings bowling. India slipped from 181-5 to 229-9, once he was introduced to the attack.

In his barbers, Ali dresses hair look no other. Utilising the follow through patches of Ishant  Sharma, his off spin was lethal at Southampton. Likewise in the second his 4-71, contributed massively to England’s bowling. Where Adil Rashid had to make do with sweeping away the floor cuttings, Moeen Ali is in his element as chief barber. Snipping his way to success.

3) Nursing

Quick class dial 999 because we have an emergency! A county player needs to be taken to hospital because he’s on fire right now. That player is of course Rory Burns. An opener who just passed 1000 county champ runs in 2018. The first guy to reach the landmark this year. Never heard of him? Well shame on you. Surrey’s dogged, determined opening stalwart should have been playing for England many moons ago. We called for his inclusion in the series against Pakistan. Far past calling, we begged Ed Smith to heed our advice for India’s visit. Did he heck. Instead Smith sent a badly bandaged Keaton Jennings out. Now, thanks to Smith, Jennings has a broken arm, leg and above all, his confidence is shattered. Again.

Rory Burns on the other hand goes from strength to strength. Like a sensible child with a match, he lights the candle and lets it burn. No waving fingers through the flame or daring each other to lick it. Which class, please do not try at home. In fact, don’t go anywhere near matches. You lot would burn the place down. Burns is sensible. He plays with a defensive mind-set. Something completely alien to England’s batting at the moment.

For the past five county seasons, Burns has reached the towering inferno of 1000 runs. Yet has been overlooked every year. At 28 years of age he is touching the prime of his batting life. A 90 against Essex, in the week of the final test at The Oval, should have been enough to give him a try out before the winter tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies. Instead whilst he remains red hot, the England opener torch remains unlit.

4) Gardening

Let’s take a stroll outside shall we? As you can see, my shorts are still begrudgingly clinging onto these muscly legs, despite the Autumn fast approaching. They won’t be changed until the end of September. When county cricket finishes. For with three games of the summer remaining, much is still to be decided at a county level.

At the top of the tree, Surrey lie 32 branches above chasing Somerset. Unbeaten thus far they have bloomed, despite the absence of rose Sangakkara. In fact his scent very much lingers in the Oval dressing room, with Head Gardner Alec Stewart, encouraging his buds to think, ‘what would Kanga do?’ Of course the Hundred Acre Wood marsupial would play sensibly. His owl like words of wisdom, trickled into the ears of Roo’s Ollie Pope and the Curran brothers. Add in a Tigger like Morne Morkel, nervy Piglet Stoneman and Amir ‘Eeyore’ Virdi and Surrey have an exceptional side. Rory ‘The Pooh’ Burns is sure to lift the honey pot aloft with glee! The rumble in the tummies of Surrey supporters will finally be quenched.

Elsewhere wilting in the extreme pressure are Worcestershire and Yorkshire. Whilst Hampshire and Lancashire are just a couple of points clear. Depending of course on the extraordinary result which could occur at Taunton as the Red Rose may sneak victory over Somerset who are currently chasing just 78 to win!

Meanwhile Sir Ian Bell is leading a Warwickshire charge in Division 2, leading by 15 points to Kent. Jofra Archer inspired Sussex are still in the hunt, as the powerful Archer fires his arrows. Whilst Glamorgan lie under damp soil, having only one victory. When it rains, it pours in Wales. Daffodil are out of season now, as too the county side.

The garden season continues…

5) Cooking

We come to the final lesson learned of the week class. Before we begin, set down your whisks for it is with deep sadness that we announce the retirement of Alastair Cook. On Monday the ex-skipper stated he will come out to bat in an England sweater for the final time this week at The Oval. Chef is a legend. No question.

As the bell is close to ringing, we shall save the career and legacy of Cookie for next week. Don’t you worry, we’ll have a special, double lesson all about the great man. Make sure you attend.

For now I’ll leave you by stating that Cook has the:

Most runs for England EVER
Most centuries for England EVER
Most wins for England EVER
Most catches for England EVER

The time to hang up his spatula is nigh. Go out with a melt in the mouth kiss Alastair.

On that slightly revolting note we end class. Excellent first day back in school. And because I’m such a cool teacher, your only homework is to YouTube Alastair Cook and watch every video there is of him! Now I’m off to the pub to drown my sorrows. Class dismissed!