Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The List

OK. I have come up with a decisive and artful plan to compel Doreen (my tardy teaching assistant) into action. Or, if 'action' is too much to hope for (I fear it may be), my plan may at the very least rouse her from her pastry induced torpor. I have given Doreen a list, a list of chores to do during her working day.

Actions noticeably absent from Doreen's list;
  1. Devouring sausage rolls in cupboards.
  2. Stealing (food from children's packed lunches, loo rolls and soap from the ladies' loos)
  3. Colouring in.
  4. Cackling.

Actions on this week's list;
  1. Design a big, colourful, sparkly homework wallchart that the children can mark (with stickers) every time they return their homework on time.
  2. Print off pictures of all our class trips and make display outside our classroom.
  3. Sort out all our library books in genres and label them.
  4. Tidy up the classroom.
  5. Put up all our Tudor portraits in our 'haunted gallery', with labels.
  6. Do a display of Year 3 maths targets.
I gave Doreen 'the list' yesterday morning. She eyed me with thinly veiled fury as I went through it with her. She immediately stomped off into the art room cupboard and locked the door behind her. I was unsure whether that was a good sign (she was looking for resources) or a bad sign (she had found a new den in which to freebase Greggs' steak bakes). To be fair, I really wasn't bothered either way. I took my class to assembly and put Doreen out of my mind. Thirty minutes later I was visited by Gloria, one of our super-efficient teaching assistants.

'Miss Underscore, Doreen has just given me a list of jobs you'd like me to do. Can I just check what you want the homework chart to look like?'

Doreen had brazenly delegated her entire 'to do' list to someone else! She was proving a difficult nut to crack. I put her straight though.

'Doreen, those jobs are for you. Gloria has her own class to look after.'

So, for the last 2 days Doreen has been working on item one on the list, the homework wallchart. Two whole days on a wallchart. 16 hours on one cunting wallchart. At least, I told myself, the end result would surely be spectacular. In a moment of rare inspiration and lucidity Doreen had even mentioned the possibility of using Velcro! Oh yes, this would be the Sistine Chapel of wallcharts. It would be a thing of such astonishing, eye-watering beauty that OFSTED would surely be dazzled. They would be blinded to our school's poor academic attainment and general atmosphere of decay and menace. We would become an 'outstanding' school once again and it would all be down to Year 3's homework chart!!! Hurrah!

At lunchtime I took down Doreen's old homework chart. I was glad to see the back of it, it was a tatty sheet of A4 paper, printed in black and white. Snail-trails of Tipp-ex covered up Doreen's many spelling mistakes. I wondered whether we could have some sort of grand unveiling ceremony for Doreen's new masterpiece. One of the children could cut a ribbon and declare the wallchart 'open'. Maybe we could even have a toast, with Doreen's beloved Vimto.

'God bless this wallchart and all who strive to return their homework on time.'

I wasn't teaching this afternoon. It was my PPA time (my afternoon for planning and marking). I had been happily mapping out my Tudor witchcraft lessons in the staffroom. Health and Safety are a twatting nuisance, you know. Apparently I am not allowed to set up a ducking stool by the River Wear. Not even if I ensure that the children I duck have their 25m swimming badges. Not even if I provide water wings and flasks of hot soup. Spoilsports.

On returning to my classroom at hometime I noticed something on the wall. The wallchart was up. My heart sank. From across the room it looked decidedly small and rather monochrome. I tentatively approached it. Dear God! It was EXACTLY the same tatty, A4, black and white, Tipp-ex smeared sheet of paper, only Doreen (in her infinite wisdom) had laminated it. The only other discernible difference was that she had handwritten a title on. Doreen's debased handwriting, quite frankly, would not look out of place on a ransom note. The title, wonkily written in green and orange felt tip, said,

Homework Cart

Doreen came into the room while I was looking at her 'cart'. She had the good sense to look rather sheepish. She cackled nervously. I didn't say anything. Her witch-like cackling had given me a rather wonderful idea. How about Doreen on the Tudor ducking stool?

As I type this I am awaiting a phone call from the swarthy rogue, Rochester. I have not actually spoke to the oaf for 4 weeks. He keeps sending me texts that say,

'Will call you tomorrow pet.'

But he never does. Never mind. I have the new Laura Ashley home furnishing catalogue to flick through. There is nothing like a bit of soft-furnishing porn to take your mind off a flaky fanny rat.

I shall leave you with this picture of Cyril, the lurcher. On Sunday Cyril stole and scoffed a whole chorizo sausage. I was rather vexed. I had planned to have a chorizo-y Spanish omlette affair for supper. I was left with mere scrambled eggs on toast. After devouring his sausage contraband Cyril appeared to go into a deep, blissed-out, paprika-addled trance. Here he is, like some sort of tapas zombie, crashed on the sofa.

So, a public service announcement to all you dog-owners out there: please keep your hounds away from bendy, European sausages. Not unless you want to see your dog looking like this. . . . I think you will agree, it is a sorry, sorry sight indeed.


  1. I bribed my parents' dog with Polish sausages for two years. Not only did he love me, but also was too distracted to steal MY food. Epic win.

  2. Nice One Cyril. The best bit of thievery my dog Daisy has managed so far was to jump up onto the kitchen table and steal a whole bag of foil-covered chocolate coins. The golden glittery poos were a bonus.

  3. Can I just say that the words "flaky fanny rat" will linger with me for a long time. I'm sure your swarthy rogue is just plain old unreliable and does not resemble a rodent with dermatitis, but that is the image I now have in my head.

  4. I'm another Waffle referral. I'm loving your blog: the SOHK, the lurchers, the food, the enforced belt-tightening - but most of all, your leading characters. I'm hooked!