Principal George Black was not one to wait on ceremony.
The girl had said she was an early riser and so there she was on the doorstep at 8am the next morning. It wasn't as if anyone could sleep the temperature was already rising somewhere towards outdoor egg-frying weather and it was no doubt going to be another summer scorcher.
The old brick house – built just before the first world war – was usually the Principal's abode in Ngurang these days, well since the original "headmaster's residence", in the grounds of the school, had been swallowed up and was now the front office and staffroom for the Primary teachers.
However, Georgina Black didn't need a house, her marriage was long dissolved and her two children grown and out into the world. No, one of the little units built across from the High School side of the Central School served her well, no real upkeep and easy to keep clean. Always a keen gardener, she'd instituted a nice sized veggie patch in the school, which produced enough veggies for her and some leftover for use in the school's small canteen.
She loved her little unit and it was a quick commute to work, straight across the road, where she taught Geography and History at the junior level as well as taking care of the day-to-day running of the school.
There was no room for a figurehead principal at Ngurang Central, as much, as she contended with marking and school paperwork, that she wished there was.
But it was a good job and the good folk of this tiny wheat and sheep town were used to her now – kind of.
Of course, she'd been a shock to the system.
Ngurang Principals had always been men until George Black – and they'd thought that tradition was continuing thanks to her rather gender-ambiguous name. Her parents had christened her Georgina but she'd never liked it, never felt it was her.
Her dad, George, had died when she was still in her teens – at a time when a young girl hasn't learned to rebel against her parents. A respected headmaster at a boys school in Sydney, he had inspired her into teaching and so as she got older and rose up the education department food chain she'd felt less and less like a Georgina and more and more like him. George Black.
And here she was – Principal of her own school.
Not that Ngurang Central was in the same league as a private school in Sydney but it was important to this dying little farming town – it's major employer these days, other than farming and the focal point of the community.
It had been rough at first.
A female boss at the school had been a culture shock particularly one like George – who no-one had really ever seen in a skirt – even in the dead of summer.
There had been whispers that she was a lesbian and even a nasty whisper campaign to get rid of her.
But gradually she'd won them over. Joining the bush fire brigade – something she'd been a part of at her other towns. When she'd instigated the windbreak that saved Elvy Dalton's century-old farmhouse – if not the old dear herself – a year into her tenure, George had gone from a figure of gossip and distrust to a member of the community.
And now it was hard to think of Ngurang without her in it deputy captain of the bushies, on the board of the bowlo and somehow – thanks to the knowledge that her son was full-forward for one of the biggest AFL Clubs in Melbourne – vice president of the footy club.
It was quite an achievement in a town where footy was religion the high priests were all males. She was the first female vice president (though there was often a mum or two on the committee to handle the canteen matters) and she had designs on the top job.
There was so much they could do, should do.
The team was dying and the team was the lifeblood of this community – the whole town just about shut up shop and travelled to every game they played. You could shoot a rifle down Ngurang's main street on a Sunday afternoon in footy season and not hit anyone – mind you could do that most days out here.
But Leo Wilson had been president for 34 years and seemed bound and determined to stay in place until they carried him out in a box – which as he was in his 70s should be anytime now except he was in rude health and of even ruder demeanour.
Under Leo and his "we stay as we are" policy, the Numbats were going to die and sooner rather than later.
The club had been in trouble last year but the loss of Phil and Rob Hardy had been close to the death-knell. If it hadn't been for a few recruits brought in from nearby towns and Macca talking Joel Hardy into putting on the boots the Numbats wouldn't have been able to field a team at all and only time would tell if it would be a competitive one.
As it was, they had to do a deal with the league so that the nearby Emor Eagles would act as their reserves for this year – a loose agreement that George had brokered and hoped would lead to an amalgamation and survival.
Of course all this was vehemently opposed by the dinosaur that was Leo Wilson.
Heaven knows what Leo was going to make of the proposal put forward at last night's league meeting in Wagga Wagga – hell it might do them all a favour and finish the old boy off.
Though she didn't really wish him ill.
Nah he'd been a good servant of the game and was most of the reason the club had survived at all. But times change. And the Numbats needed to change with them.
Still, she wasn't looking forward to the conversation she'd have to have with Leo in the next few days.
Hell, she couldn't even bring herself to mention it to Macca last night when she dropped in at the pub on the way home after her meeting and his first training session of the year.
Nah she'd decided to leave that conversation to a much more private occasion – dinner at his place on Friday night – a far too occasional thing for her liking between the widowed farmer and divorced principal.
So far, surprisingly, no one had caught them out, a minor Ngurang miracle, and only Phil and Trish Hardy, Phil's sister Joce and her husband, Macca's brother Warren, knew there was anything going on between the two.
Not there was much there.
They could only meet "romantically" when Macca's twin 15-year-old daughters went to their aunt and uncle Joce and Warren's for the night or over to visit Thea at the Hardy's (when she was home) and that didn't happen enough.
She wondered how he would take the news of a woman's competition – to start towards the middle of this season or failing that, definitely next season.
Leo would hate it but she wasn't sure about Macca.
No, he was an unknown quantity.
George wished she could have told him last night at her place before the region's jungle drums (or facebook groups) spread the word. But even though all the other teachers in the units were still out of town – it would still be risky to have his ute parked in her driveway in a town like this.
So instead she'd had a quick chat to him, young Joel and the others and trudged off home.
She needed an early night and now she was ready for another day which included meeting her newest teacher = Poppy something or other, the new Year three-four.
She was younger than her sons and green as grass but that happened out here. You either got them straight out of uni or close to retirement -not a lot in between.
But still, it would be good to have a bit of fresh blood around here, she thought as she knocked on the door – wondering if the girl knew anything about footy!
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Football drought & other catastrophesRomance
Newly minted teacher Poppy Fraser is starting a new life - she just didn't expect it would be in such an alien place where football is the main religion and anything else is just not worth knowing about. Joel Hardy has been trying to escape his fam...