All teachers have idiosyncrasies which pupils love to note, mimic and remember long after all their teaching has been forgotten. I have my own share of them. Frowning when the girls, as is their wont, were giggling away to glory among themselves in class, I asked ‘Who laughs over nothing at all?’ and they replied on cue, without a shade of embarrassment, ‘Madmen and chimpanzees!’ as they had heard me observe a hundred times. I recalled a teacher in their school, long retired, who used to say ‘These girls can fall off their benches tittering if they see a leaf fall…’
And the thought struck me that when you see women – who were girls ten or twenty years ago – on the roads, they almost invariably wear grim and forbidding expressions, as if they are disgusted with the world, and cannot think of anything that could make them smile, leave alone laugh. The contrast is so sharp that I wonder many more people don’t notice and comment on it. Why does it happen? I have a little theory of my own. Since overdoing anything is the surest way to grow sick of it, maybe the grimness of adult life comes in reaction to all the hysterical, mindless giggling through teenage? Maybe we should laugh a little less when we are young so that we can go on laughing now and then all through life?