When I first heard of a ‘teaching pool’ I imagined a place where teachers could relax, take a dip, float on an airbed and sip cocktails. Academia meets Club Tropicana, that kind of thing.
Sat eating my lunch next to a rat, my illusions had been shattered. I was opposite a disused community centre, having arrived early for my interview for a teaching pool. A man, who seemed to speak all languages, and yet at the same time no languages, had already screamed at me in the street for no clear reason. This was not the kind of place you wanted to be walking, while wearing a suit…holding a map.
This had prompted me to think of reasons to stop any potential muggers. “I have a heart condition, mug me and it will probably be murder. Plus, I’m due to sing at the Royal Wedding, imagine how devastated the Queen will be if I don’t make it”, was one of the more imaginative.
The incident with the local nutter had left me with a thin layer of sweat, just in time for the interview. The cavernous hall didn’t help either; I felt like a dead man walking the walk of shame as I approached the panel. I paused to remind myself of the relaxing mantras of “you’re confident and relaxed” and “you don’t want to work in this area anyway!”
The panel had clearly organised a good cop, bad cop, with another good cop thrown in for good measure, scenario. The women to my left and right were perfect interviewers, smiley and noddy in all the right places. The woman in the centre Didn’t.Blink.Once.
Her ominous scowl reminded me of how you can laugh in the face of death but death doesn’t even crack a smile in return. I began to direct my answers to the other women, the floor, the ceiling, the glass of water, anywhere other than to her Medusa-like glower. Thankfully apart from a few hiccups (I should have drunk more water) the interview for the pool went swimmingly (pun intended).
As I left, a penny dropped. The ‘stare-master’ was the head teacher of a school I had just applied for a job with. I won’t enter a breath-holding contest anytime soon.