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Introducing Mr Justin Case


As a household, we are not good at letting things go. "No, Graham," my wife will say, " you can't throw out that collection of old vinyl records that are gathering dust in the garage. I might listen to them one day" or "What! You can't throw out the Kissy Stool just because you trod on it and it broke." It has to be kept for sentimental reasons, apparently. Even though it will never serve its purpose again.


The Kissy Stool? Ah, I should explain. The Kissy Stool is a battered plastic kick stool that we bought in the early days of our marriage to serve a very specific purpose. My wife and I are not even vaguely the same height. There's a good 14 inches between me, at 6' 0" and her, at 4' 10". So, when the time came for me to say goodbye before I left for work each morning, Rachel would stand on the stool and I would get a peck on the cheek - hence the name, the Kissy Stool. When middle age hit us and we became less romantically inclined (sad, isn't it?) it then got downgraded until, eventually, it came to live among the general clutter in the garage ... which is where I fell over it and broke it. In fact, the Kissy Stool was so central to our family life at one point that our daughters believed that was what everyone called them. I believe one of them even went into a local hardware store and enquired whether they sold 'Kissy Stools' shortly before leaving for university.


So the Kissy Stool has now passed into the hands of a certain Justin Case. He owns all the cassette tapes with recordings of hits from the 1980s on them, too. And the basket of toys that lives under the stairs for when the grandchildren visit (incidentally, we don't have any ... yet). He owns most of the books I bought on Amazon but scarcely read along with dozens of old mugs, coasters, and clothes that we bought years ago which no longer fit us. More importantly, he owns the spare set of keys for the front door, for when I leave my own set at work and is the reason why I pay my life insurance premiums.


Cyclical School, in some senses, is like the Kissy Stool and many of the other things owned by Justin Case. We ought to keep one in reserve ... for Justin Case. He is the only reason why I have life insurance as there's no immediate benefit to me of paying £17.79 every month to Legal and General except for a bit of peace of mind.


But what if disaster struck and Justin Case wasn't there? There would be no reaching the higher shelves in the kitchen, no sets of old clothes to do the decorating in, no old Christmas cards to look back over, and reminisce. Nothing to fall back on at all. Not even a life insurance policy so that Rachel could pay off the mortgage balance and continue living in our home were I to be knocked down by the number 13 bus. Thank goodness for Justin Case!


We might never have to use Cyclical School. It's a bit like the fire extinguisher in your classroom, or the safeguarding training you do as a teacher for that moment when one of the students you're bringing back from a trip away gets sexually assaulted in the toilets at a service station (Yes, that really happened to me in around 2007). You don't think you're going to need it. But on the rare occasions that you do ... aren't you so grateful that it's there?


And, as for the records ... we bought a turntable lately and they do sound rather good.



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