Remembering (Healthy) Harold and the Life Education van

Healthy Harold

“Harold, Invictus”, by Jonathan Rivett, 2017

I’d always known him as plain old Harold. 

Apparently at the time of his death, he was going by the name Healthy Harold. In any case, I was shocked to hear of his demise at the age of just 39 yesterday. 

I was very pleased to hear of his return from the dead, just a few hours later. 

If you have no idea who I’m talking about, Harold was is a giraffe. He is, as far as I know, a minister in the Uniting Church. In 1979 he moved from Ethiopia to Potts Point in Sydney and shortly after founded a group called Life Education with fellow minister at the Wayside Chapel, Ted Noffs. 

I first came into contact with Harold in a darkened van. 

That sounds dodgy, and quite frankly it was a bit, but not in the way you might think. 

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Who stole the cookies? [The Mike Lamprill Incident]

At primary school, a boy whose real name I won’t reveal (I’ll call him Mike Lamprill) took our collective seven-year-old understanding of honesty to a new echelon during a game of Who Stole the Cookies From the Cookie Jar.

For those who don’t know the game, it goes something like this:

Kiddies sit in a circle and create a beat by clapping their hands then slapping their knees in unison – hands-knees, hands-knees, hands-knees, etc. The teacher then gets the game started in earnest by singing “Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?” followed by “Li stole the cookies from the cookie jar.” This brings that child into the game, and their response to the accusation must be “Who me?” which is immediately followed by the whole group baying for blood: “Yes you!”, then back to the accused who pleads their innocence with “Couldn’t be!”, then back to the group of shockingly fickle accusers who, instead of broadening their line of enquiry just give up, and together ask “Then who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?”, which gives the now-innocent child the chance to make their own evidence-free allegation: “DAVID stole the cookies from the cookie jar!” And so on and so forth.

If you’re still not sure what the hell I’m talking about, I highly recommend Wikipedia’s description, which includes a superlative use of the word “apocryphal”.

Who Stole the Cookies had a chequered history at my primary school.

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