Saturday, 12 February 2011

My week (well, the first 3 days only. . . sorry)


So, I left you all with the news that Doreen (the world's most inappropriate teaching assistant) had announced she was leaving the School of Hard Knocks, with immediate effect. Over the weekend I had popped in to Greggs, to get her leaving present (a £2 gift voucher). I thought I'd ask the kids to knock up a 'Good Luck Doreen' card. As you can imagine, the news of Doreen's departure was a blessed relief. Given that the school budget has been decimated by Tory cuts (please do not believe that education spending has been 'ring-fenced', some aspects of our budget have been cut by 75%) I knew that Doreen would not be replaced. I didn't care. Life would be easier without her.

So, I had a spring in my £9 ballet pumps on Monday morning. I was Doreen free! I would be free to enter my own classroom cupboard without facing the cackling, toothless, pastry eating Minotaur.

At 8.30 I was typing up some Haikus on the whiteboard (not my Rochester Haiku, sadly). The classroom was a haven of gentle, morning sunlight and tranquility. Suddenly the peace was shattered by the sound of coarse, Mackem cackling and the rustling of Costcutter carrier bags. My classroom door flew open.


Doreen was back.


On Tuesday Pompous Pilate had arranged for my maths lesson to be observed by some local authority bigwigs. The LEA are concerned about our imminent OFSTED inspection and poor Year 6 results. I was to be the school's honey trap. Despite having a chronically depressed, madly eccentric, socially gauche and professionally inept teacher, my class are the sanest, sweetest, happiest and cleverest kids in school. Consequently, VIPS visitors are routinely steered our way. It's something of a chore.

'Put on a good show Miss Underscore. Come up with something creative, will you? There's a lot riding on this.'

Hmmmm. Creative eh? I had a plan. I had a GENIUS plan.

After the observation Pompous, the pot-bellied prig, came blustering into the class. He was looking redder and sweatier than ever, he was wringing his hammy hands. I couldn't work out whether he was pleased or distraught.

'By 'eck, they loved it Miss Underscore, but what a risk. A severed head, dripping blood in a maths lesson? It's just as well I didn't know about it in advance. Dear God. Anyway, well done! I don't think they'll ever forget it! Err, but next time, let me know if you're planning anything so . . . . extreme.'

My lesson had been on direction and position: compass points, map-reading, right angle turns etc etc. To link to my Tudor theme I had produced a map of Henry VIII's kingdom, resplendent with all his favourite jaunts and pastimes (bear baiting, executions, ducking stools, jousting competitions). The children had to follow a series of clues to work their way around Henry's realm. I'd told them if they did so successfully, they would get to open Henry's treasure chest (a golden chest sat on my desk). The end of the lesson came. The children had indeed made their way round the map. They speculated about Henry's treasure.

'Gold coins!'

'A dagger.'

'A jewelled crown.'

'A cheese and onion pasty' (yes, even Doreen was getting into the spirit of the occasion).

I chose a couple of girls to come and unlock the treasure chest. Giggling, they came to the front. The chest creaked open.


Sat inside the box was a vintage Girl's World mannequin's head. For extra impact I had splattered it with red poster paint. Around its neck was Anne Boleyn's famous 'B' pendant. Henry's beloved treasure was Anne Boleyn's, bloody severed head!

The screams were loud enough to summon several concerned Stepfords from their rooms.

They say, do they not, that you never forget a good teacher? Sometimes I fear that I will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes I wonder if, fast forward 20 years, my kids will be supine on some shabby prison couch, telling a bespectacled psychologist all about their rather morbid and maudlin Year 3 teacher.


Bleugh day. Nothing to report really. I'd deliberately let the batteries on both my home and mobile phones run down. I figured that way I'd be unable to send any more Rochester texts. On Wednesday evening I charged both phones again. Within minutes I had:

(a) Received a call from M&S money about my failure to make this month's minimum payment.
(b) Sent yet another text to the Fanny Rat King.

Despair. I need a Rochester intervention. It strikes me the odds of me making a total arse of myself this Valentine's day are very high indeed.


  1. Hello! I never know how to do this, I feel I am stepping out of the gloom in a creepy, stalkerish way.
    Being that as it may, I wanted to empathise with the Rochester situation. I have Been There, with my own similarly withholding, emotionally unavailable Rochester Rat, though this was before the advent of the texting age, which made the clean break strategy a bit more feasible. I did cycle over to his house late at night, once, after a drink or two. (Bloody hell, I AM a stalker. I had no idea. Huh.) Don't worry, is the point I am getting around to, it will run its course. All will be well, take heart.

    (Love the severed head. That is fantastic. Red poster paint? Stroke of genius! Rochester is giving up all this brilliance? Fool!)

  2. Oh, thank you so much Ms Elastic Girl!

    I always find it hard to let go, it's true. Thankfully, Rochester is 300 miles away, so the teary, midnight 'drive-by' is totally impossible. Oh, but in this new-fangled, technological age, there are so many ways for me to make an idiot of myself: phone/ text/ email/ Facebook/ Twitter/ blog etc etc.

    I wish I lived in the age of the carrier-pigeon, or message in a bottle.