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Teaching is not normally regarded as a hazardous profession and the wearing of hard hats in the classroom is seldom compulsory. I feel that this may perhaps be an oversight on the part of the authorities in charge of the rules.

There I was, in full pontificate mode in front of the class, waving my arms about and discoursing eloquently on this and that, when I noticed a look of (as it were) existential dread begin to creep over the faces of those few students who were still awake.

"Look out!" one of them called.

"?" I thought to myself.

WALLOP! The whiteboard fell off the wall and landed on my head. I staggered forwards under the weight of it, and several people rushed to my aid. Some supported the board and moved it out of the way; some supported me and led me to a chair. All were most concerned.

"Are you all right?"

This question has always struck me as an extremely odd one. There you are, at the scene of a major catastrophe. The victim is bleeding all over the landscape and several major body parts are scattered around. You rush over to help.

"Are you all right?"

Do you really expect to receive the reply, "Yes, perfect, never felt better in my life. Bundle of fluffy ducks. I think I’ll just toddle off down the road to the pub and throw a party to celebrate the occasion."

I sat in my chair and trembled. Shock was the general diagnosis.

"Put up his blood sugar levels, calm him down, speak soothingly and check for signs of concussion."

Before I knew it, a cup of tea, a plate of biscuits and a packet of panadol appeared in front of me. My pupils were examined to see if they reacted to light and if they both remained the same size. Fingers were waved. Would my eyeballs track? All appeared to be in order.

I nibbled a biscuit and swallowed a couple of panadol with my tea as I took stock of the situation. The back of my head hurt, though there was no bump and no bleeding. As I raised my hand to poke my head I became conscious of a flapping effect. Further investigation revealed that the sleeve of my jacket was torn and large swathes of fabric were hanging free. The corner of the whiteboard, impelled by a fairly massive momentum (whiteboards are HEAVY) had ripped its way down my arm without, fortunately, gouging into the flesh beneath.

I contemplated the possible effects of that sharp corner on my body or my head and shuddered anew. The potential for massive injury was too awful to contemplate. I calmed myself with a biscuit and began to realise just how lucky I had been. Had I been standing two inches to the right and one pace back I would now be sprawled unconscious and bleeding on the floor. Perhaps my flesh rather than the fabric of my jacket would be hanging in flaps. Perhaps my skull would be caved in like an eggshell, leaking brains and body fluids onto the carpet. They’d never get the stains out…

I spent the rest of the day in a curiously disembodied state. Nothing felt quite real and I have absolutely no idea what I said to the students as the class progressed. I leaned the whiteboard up against the wall and continued to write and draw on it. The next day a man arrived and fixed it to the wall with screws so long that I began to wonder if they would poke out into the next room. No way would this whiteboard ever fall off again. Not unless the whole wall fell out with it. Mind you, Wellington is in an earthquake zone…

"There," said the man in tones of deepest satisfaction, thumping it hard. "Solid as a rock." He left and I turned to the class to continue the lesson.

Ten minutes later the projector exploded.

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