Monthly Archives: November 2012

The post where I write about pubes

The universe has many mysteries. Why are we here? Are we alone in the universe? And why does a stray pube always end up in everything you laminate? I can’t get to the front bottom of it.

Upon examining their perfectly laminated ‘wow words’, I’ve seen perfectionists weep to find them littered with short and curlies. I’ve witnessed others receive third degree burns trying to remove a molten straggler from their ‘Fractions Wall Chart’ as it yields to the laminator.

Groovy Group take it all in their stride. Not one of them questioned why a Rainbow Fish had netherhair as we played a board game. Groovy Group (previously Groovy Gang, until a senior manager of the school felt the word ‘gang’ had violent undertones) is my lunchtime club. Outsiders wonder what’s so groovy about it. We’re sworn to secrecy. The first rule of Groovy Group is that you don’t talk about Groovy Group.

That’s not to suggest any sinister undertones. Groovy Group is not a cult. It’s not as if I’m going to develop a messianic complex and eventually blow my classroom up with the entire group inside it. Never, and the fact I now wear robes and am greeted by the children as ‘His Grooviness’ is just part of the fun.

I felt less than groovy on the way in. I’d tried listening to euphoric trance but my stomach continued to play ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’. A visit to a restaurant called ‘Sticky Fingers’ had left me with ‘Rancid Guts’.

With this and a constant battle developing between me and the class (one devil child in particular), I was left with a shorter fuse. One child approached and asked me to put her name on the reward ladder.  “I’ll decide when to put you on the reward ladder!” I barked. She persisted not once, not twice but four times. I slammed down the sand timer I was holding and shot her the kind of look that might explain why she was once caught urinating into a dustbin.

“You won’t be allowed to meet our visitors from the Far East!” I bellowed (at this point unaware that it was a typo and the people were actually from Fire Safety). This was one of two typos that week, the other being a poster giving the children the chance to be ‘Superherpes’.

At the end of the day, as I bid sayonara to our visitors, I wandered over to the reward ladder to do the usual movement of children either up or down it. It was then I realised what the girl had meant. Her name was not there. She hadn’t been asking me to move her up the reward ladder, rather just for her name to be there in the first place. I felt like the biggest shit and not because of my experience at Sticky Fingers.


Every penny

I’ve written a joke. An autistic kid, two dyslexics and 12 lower achieving children walk into a pub. With a teacher. The teacher says “15 pints of lager please” and the barman says “there’s more chance of your children making rapid accelerated progress than of you getting served”.

Okay, the punchline needs a bit of work, but that’s the expectation after the latest round of observations. Pardon my French, but j’ai travaillé mes bollocks off for this class, so it was dispiriting to hear some of them were not considered to be making suitable improvement.

Maybe I should blame the parents. Especially the one who forgot their child’s name in a recent conversation to me. I ran through the register till I jogged his memory. Perhaps I should blame the kids too. “Do your homework just like every other child in this class!” I urged one child, while trying to ignore the 19 other children sat doing their homework with him.

Another child caused alert arriving teary eyed to say she’d just lost her puppy. She’d last seen it outside school. I asked for a description, while she bawled uncontrollably. “Does it have a name?” I asked. “No” “Was it wearing a collar?” “No” “What colour is it?” “Red, with leaves on it…” “Poppy, it’s called a Poppy”.

The autistic child in my class veers from a deep, bewildered mindset to occasional lucidity. “I’ve drawn a caricature!” he suddenly exclaimed. On the one hand I enjoyed his use of the word ‘caricature’, on the other hand I was stunned that he’d managed to draw it on the back of the child in front of him, in front of me, using a permanent marker. Using another hand, either borrowed from someone or grafted onto me, he’d managed this unnoticed by another 2 adults and 29 children.

Coinciding with anti-bullying week (the one time of the year I can’t demand dinner money off the weaker children); it was the last week of our certificate system. This meant giving certificates to children who’d never had enough reason to win.

I was tempted to be honest. “This award goes to (name of deviant) for devising different ways to hurt children in the playground. Strangulation, anaesthetization and erotic asphyxiation being among my personal favourites”.

At least one child appreciated my efforts presenting me with a gift. Inside the envelope was a hand drawn one way ticket to Sri Lanka. I think the idea came from a good place, a better place than the one now occupied by the child sat missing his break. His particular crime? He allowed me to spend 15 minutes delivering an impassioned speech on how he can improve his lot at school, before revealing I was chatting to his twin. I never got Dad’s excuse for not stepping in sooner. I blame the parents and the kids.

This used to be my playground

It’s taken 18 months or 547 days or 788923 minutes but I’ve finally managed to correct a child’s work by telling them there’s no ‘i’ in team. We needed teamwork to help cope with a failing heating system. The children grouped together like penguins on the carpet, which I guess would make me the Emperor Penguin.

Like an Emperor Penguin I’m able to shut down non-essential organ functions. My need to hear is generally non-essential. The thousand soap operas a day are forgotten about as quickly as they’re told to me.

Following a gig the previous night, I was so profoundly deaf I pretended to listen to their myriad of “he did this” “she did that” stories. “I’m pulling the same expression weirdos have while sat opposite me on the tube” I thought, through the perpetual ringing noise.

If my auditory perception had been just that bit better I could have avoided what happened next. I’d been given a large ball of tin foil with a passing comment about what was in it. I hadn’t picked this up and proceeded to squeeze the ball, throw it in the air and shake it. I removed layer after layer to the close attention of the class.

I heard the crack, before I caught the smell. Liquid suddenly poured from the tin foil down my sleeves and before I knew it, the smell of rotten egg was everywhere. What possessed this child to think a rotten egg was a suitable gift was similar to the mindset of the child who gave me a Hoover bag for my birthday.

The School is being expanded and resembles New York. To paraphrase Madonna ‘this used to be our playground’. It’s difficult to keep the children’s attention “stop looking out the window at the  excavators, bulldozers and giant cranes!”

To finish the day a group that appeared in the X Factor performed for us. As they bounded on stage I pretended to hyperventilate and did the ‘flappy hand in front of the face’ thing. It’s testament to how kind and alert our first aid officer is, that she scuttled over to see if I was OK.

My loss of hearing was my downfall again as I bumped into the group in the corridor. I wanted to say ‘thank you’ but was unsure of their group name. Was it Mitosis? No, that’s something to do with cells. Mitsubishi? They make motor bikes. I went for ‘myxomatosis’. They politely corrected me. “It’s Mitsotu”. When they find out myxomatosis is a disease that wipes out rabbits I expect a mention in their Christmas autobiography.