Just friends

It’s a recurring nightmare. I’m stuck in a room with a load of people ‘passionate about teaching’. Every person is animated, every conversation relentlessly dull. I try the doors then the windows. There is no escape. Finally I’m cornered by a woman with thick rimmed glasses and a jumper that smells of soil. “I’m enormously excited about”…at this point I wake up in a cold sweat.

The most recent cold sweat was caused by a genuine sickness. Despite this I still wished for the sound of people with chest compressors shouting “Clear!” in the background, when I made the call.

At my first placement School they made a big issue over absence. Your name would be written in three-foot letters on the staff room notice board, along with the nature of your ailment. I remember one occasion when a woman lost her child prematurely. The officious secretary walked into the room, wrote the woman’s name and the word ‘baby’ next to it…

The penultimate week of term involves cramming everything in. I went from measuring head sizes (for carnival hats, not some Nazi experiment) to getting the kids to stick new Literacy targets into their books (i.e. digging their own graves).  It was while gluing, that I realized I too had the OCD bug. I heard an unrecognisable voice saying “That’s not stuck in straight!” “You can see parts of the sheet sticking out of the side of the book!” and “the ends are curling up!”

The usual human dramas continue. The seasonal feeling was disrupted by a child who christened a story ‘F**k the fairy’. He was later excluded for threatening behaviour which was when my holiday officially started. Another child told me that after wearing the same design of socks as me one day; he now wears those same socks every day. In PSHE we covered the dangers of hero-worship and foot hygiene.

As the week wore on I could feel myself flagging. “What does this mean?” asked one child. I’d written ‘Read your sentences and make sure they make sentence’. So used to shouting at the children to ‘focus!’ I nearly bellowed it at the checkout girl in Iceland.

One of our Assistant Head teachers sat in on a lesson to view the children she called ‘the head cases’. I asked one child to repeat back to me what she had to do. She’d no idea. I shot the Assistant Head teacher a “what are you gonna do?” look, only to find she wasn’t listening either. Yes, I. am. that. boring. It’s no surprise she was abbreviated to ‘Ass Head’ in a recent School text message.

I slipped over in the School corridor on the way home and thus spent the journey home smelling of disinfectant. Thankfully there was no serious damage done to my dancing feet and we finished the week with our end of term party. Another ‘Ass Head’, of the sleazy variety, was working his way around leaving a trail of slime behind him. He was rejected at every turn. To have watched him on fast forward would be like seeing a ball whiz round a pinball machine.

Despite the presence of other schools there, namely the Convent of Jesus and Mary infant school, Our Lady of Grace RC School and The Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School there was not the usual end of evening orgy.

What did appear in the twilight of the evening was a strange little man who danced as if in the throes of an epileptic fit. He was so roundly ignored I assumed that only I could see him, hence he became my new imaginary friend. It was only when a woman grabbed his tie and swung him around good-naturedly that I realised she could see him too. Expect our custody battle to start shortly.

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