Wednesday, 27 October 2010


Having spent twenty years watching my husband as he emerged like a military butterfly through various ranks, from fresh faced Petty Officer to sage old Commander, I always admired his capacity to get up at ungodly hours to get to work whether it be to drive back to Portsmouth on a Monday morning, join a ship or be behind the various desk jobs the Royal Navy appointed him to. I can only now, genuinely appreciate how truly hellish it must have been as by some perverse karma, it is Hubby who is now seeing me off. It is he who is making me a cup of tea in the morning whilst it is still pitch black outside and he who is waving and blowing me kisses farewell as I drive off down the road, far, deep into the bowels of Cornwall as I wend my merry way to my first ‘placement’ school.
I wish I could say that it is only what I deserve, but in the last twenty years, I have been conscious only a handful of times when Hubby has crept out of the house at the crack of dawn and I’m sure that was when I was breastfeeding. So, I am truly grateful that he has not decided to throw a nasty two fingered gesture at me from under the duvet as I put on the ‘big’ light and fling open my wardrobe and deliberate what to wear, or indeed curse me for having my hairdryer on maximum speed. Indeed he has been gracious and good natured and in fact only too glad to get a morning cuddle that he would otherwise forgo were I back to my, never to be seen again, pre-teaching days.
The fact that I am up to my eyeballs in paperwork and a learning curve so steep that it is quite literally vertiginous, has perhaps made me overlook the fact that the poor man himself if not without his degree of stresses and strains. The defence review has been made public and for once, I am not glad that he isn’t a rufty-tufty WAFU. Those poor sods have had a real rum deal and our senior service alas, will not be what it was. Hard to believe that Britannia once ruled the waves. Ironic that I have been studying the Timeline of the English language and that the Jutes, Angles, Danes and Normans after invading us, all had a part to play in our language and the results are in our every day vocabulary. God only knows, without a significant armed force to protect us, who will invade us next and what country’s language will influence ours next. Where is Alfred the Great when we need him?
And so it was with my windscreen wipers going like the clappers, that I drove away on a dark Monday morning, past Liskeard, along the Dobwalls bypass, past Trago and on past the crematorium roundabout at Bodmin. When I finally arrived at the school, I was ready for bed and never fully recovered all day. Bad ju-ju when one has to look slightly more engaged with Steinbeck than your average 15 year old and by the time I embarked on the last lesson of the day and had to seem sufficiently au fait with Orwell and Animal Farm, I was hard pushed to keep my eyes open let alone talk profoundly on why a pig was a metaphor for Josef Stalin.
The next day, having ensured I was in bed before ten, saw me perform slightly better with Frankenstein, although when I say perform, I actually mean, support, as I have yet to go solo and teach a class alone. So, no sooner had the bell gone and the children dismissed, that I ran, gasping for a reviving hit of caffeine. Easier said than done. In previous schools, where I worked as a teaching assistant, I often complained to Hubby of the pedancy revolving the ‘coffee boat’. Woe betide anyone who did not contribute to the coffee coffers whilst helping themselves. In my current school though, I am horrified. Even I, whose kitchen and refrigerator often elicits raised eyebrows from those more familiar with the Cilit Bang, cannot comprehend how a staff of over one hundred can let mugs and lunch plates and spoons and forks gather and pile up in a festering mass of campylobacter. The offending crockery and utensils that I saw stacked sky high on Monday were still there at the end of the week. Enough. With very little hot water, an amount of washing up liquid so minute that it made a rude noise as I squirted the bottle and paper towels instead of a scourer, I set to work.
Thanks? Nope, just a cafetiere emptied of its coffee grains poured onto my sink-ful of meagre warm water with the following advice, “I wouldn’t make a habit of it”. To be pedantic and demand a quid a coffee, or to threaten, with a visit from Environmental Health? That is the question.

1 comment:

DL said...

I flirted with the idea of teaching for a number of years and, on one occasion, this rose to the level of my spending a day shadowing maths teachers around a well-respected comprehensive in Malvern. One of my abiding memories from this has to be the state of the staff room sink. Needless to say, several years on, and I'm not teaching.

Best wishes,