Friday, 8 January 2010

Under Pressure

Monday was the first day back of the laughably titled 'Spring Term'. The weather was atrocious. My school is sits proudly upon a hill, and my classroom is on the top floor. It has the most breathtaking views. I see the the whole city sprawling out in front of me and the the bleak and pewter north sea beyond. On Monday I couldn't take my eyes off the vista. I watched with horror as heavy, black snow clouds crept up the coast and the sky darkened at 2pm. Cars were skidding along the road in front of the school. I couldn't wait to get home. As soon as the kids left I put my coat on and headed to the door.

'Miss Underscore, have you forgotten, Monday, after school meeting?' It was Pompous.

Dear God. Surely not! I only have a 4 mile journey to make, but some (incredibly daft) teachers live up to 45 miles away. I was astounded that Pompous would inflict a meeting on us. I groaned and headed back to the staffroom. I didn't take my coat off (a passive aggressive way of registering my discontent).

'Ah now everyone. I know you'll all be wanting to get home. I shan't keep you long. 5 minutes at the most. Just a few important messages to give. Before we start, what do you think of the weather? By 'eck, if you think this is bad, let me tell you about my Christmas in Yorkshire. Well, we set off . . . . . '

I shan't bore you with the rest of the tale, just to say that the story lasted 26 minutes and 32 seconds. It ended with him moaning about how his central heating was playing up.

'Well, you lot don't look very sympathetic.' the obtuse oaf complained.

No one said a word, the silence was deafening. Showing a rare degree of sensitivity and awareness Pompous wisely moved on to the 'important messages.'

Firstly, he introduced the police officer who is now stationed in our school and who is responsible for dealing with behaviour issues. Of course, that should be the Headteacher's job, but it is a job Pompous is making a pig's ear of at the moment. So, in typical Pompous fashion, he has delegated the task.

This makes us the first PRIMARY school in the country to have a police officer seconded, full time, onsite. What a badge of honor! Parents will surely be queuing up to send their darling children to such a school.

Anyway, back to the meeting, Pompous introduced the police officer (who looked about 15 years old) and then leered lasciviously at me.

'Ere, Miss Underscore, I bet you're disappointed he's not in his uniform, eh???'

I just scowled at the chump and, to hurry the brainless bozo along, started putting on my gloves and hat. That seemed to work, he hurriedly moved on to the next item on the agenda, an apology.

'Now, I made some mistakes last term. There was too much pressure on you all. I know there was a 2 week window when I asked too much of you: reports, testing, lesson observations, special needs' assessments, parents' evenings. It was too much. Thank you for doing it. I'll not make such a mistake again. You'll still have to do it all, of course. I'll just spread it out a bit more.'

He was referring to a time last term when one of the school's most hard-working teachers started experiencing panic attacks. The girl is only 27 years old, but was getting breathless, having chest pains and severe heart palpitations. These all started during Pompous's 'Fortnight of Fear.' So, she went to the doctors. He immediately diagnosed work-related stress and told her that her blood pressure was sky-high.

Admirably the girl did not take up the quack's offer of a sick note but she did go to see Pompous to tell him about her doctor's findings. In this meeting she told Pompous that she craved a regular 9-5 job. A job where she wouldn't end up taking piles of work home every night, where she wouldn't spend weekends planning and marking. A job where she would have time for hobbies and the gym.

Pompous proudly slapped his blubbery belly with his ruddy, hammy hands.

'Aye. I know what you mean luv. Before I came to this school I was at the gym 7 nights a week. Now, I'm lucky if I get there 3 times. '

Well. To be honest, ever since Pompous arrived at our school he's had the physique of a comfort-eating whale, so (unsurprisingly) the girl thought this was a joke, and started laughing hysterically. Sadly, Pompous was deadly serious. This small misunderstanding did not endear the girl to the patronising prig. His dander was now up.

'Anyway, luv. Tell me now, how high was your blood pressure when the doctor took it?'

The girl told him.

'By 'eck. That's nowt is that! Nowt to worry about there. Let me tell you about work-related stress. Let me tell you about MY blood pressure readings! My doctor says they are so high that actually I should be dead! I tell you what, tomorrow, you bring your blood pressure monitor in and we'll take our readings together and we'll see who's under the most stress. That'll show you! You don't know you're born lass.'

The girl was quite upset at the officious oaf's less than supportive response. She came to see me. It is common knowledge within the school that I hate, loathe and despise our beastly buffoon of a leader. Consequently, Stepfords are forever seeking me out to gripe about the filthy boor.

'What should I do, Miss Underscore?'

'I tell you what you do. Tomorrow, go to see him. Take your blood pressure monitor and your payslip. Tell him that you want to compare salaries. Point out that he may, indeed, be under more stress than you. But, the fact that he is paid three times your salary more than compensates for that. See what he has to say then.'

'Oh my God! I can't do that Miss Underscore! He'd be furious, you know how angry he gets. Anyway, what would I need the blood pressure monitor for, if I'm just talking about pay slips and things?'

'Ah well. When he starts huffing and puffing with fury, and turning extra beetrooty and sweating like a hippo in a leotard then you sweetly suggest he sits down, tell him he is looking a little peaky and suggest he maybe he takes his blood pressure there and then.'

Of course, it didn't happen. But we did enjoy out little fantasy of inching Pompous a little closer to the inevitable coronary.

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