“Don’t feel obliged”

I almost choked on my cornflakes last sunday. In a wonderful article in last weekend’s Observer on Michelle Obama’s visit to Islington’s Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College (an inner city girls only school in London), this paragraph achieved to raise my eyebrows. Both of them:

“Jo Dibb, the headteacher, isn’t quite sure why, out of all the schools in London, hers was picked. “A piece of paper landed on my desk saying, ‘Would you like a talk from the US cultural attaché on civil rights?’ and I gave it to the librarian and said, ‘Don’t feel obliged’. But she went ahead and organised it and he was apparently very impressed by the quality of the girls’ questions.”

Well, why would you feel obliged? It’s only the American cultural attaché wanting to talk to your pupils about civil rights. According to the Observer article, 92% of the school’s pupils are from ethnic minorities. That gives me the impression that the history of the American civil rights movement might be actually quite topical. Possibly even educational. There might even be a chance that it would inspire.

But, you know, don’t feel obliged.