The tortuous battle with Doreen, my inept crone of a teaching assistant, continues. On Monday I asked her to make two golden frames to display pictures of our 'Golden Children of the Week'. We have an art cupboard crammed with gold paper and cardboard, so I didn't imagine this would be a difficult project. I was anticipating that Doreen would be able knock something up in an hour or so. I am trying, to be honest, to keep her away from the children. (Last week she managed to teach a group of 7 year olds the completely wrong method of column addition).
'Yes Doreen, just a simple gold frame. We'll stick the photos up on the wall every week. Is that OK?'
Doreen has spent the last 3 days working on this project at the back of the class. Her workspace has been a gaudy turmoil of paint, glue, glitter, sequins, tinsel and quality street wrappers.
Today, while I was in the PE hall, teaching Tudor dancing*, Doreen erected her masterpieces. DEAR GOD! The frames were HUGE and were plastered with more cheap glitz than a pikey wedding dress. There was no real design; there were vomits of nasty fluorescent paint, tatty strings of tinsel, mounds of gluey sequins and multi-coloured glitter. The lettering spelling out the word GOLDEN was so wonky I suspected it had been written by an inebriated possum.
To make matters worse, the frames and pictures were so gargantuan that the only space Doreen could find to fit them was on our window. So, the classroom has been plunged into eternal darkness and our lovely view of the North Sea is totally obscured. On entering the room visitors are now welcomed by 2 life-sized photos of children, surveying their class like baby-faced dictators, their icons festooned with migraine inducing levels of kitsch tat.
At the end of the day Pompous popped in with some ladies from the council. One of the ladies walked to the window and Doreen's frames.
'Oh, look at these!'
Toothless Doreen was smiling proudly. The lady continued,
'I love children's artwork, it's always so vulgar and OTT isn't it?'
The Patter of Tiny Pompettes
Pompous was sprawled across an armchair in the staffroom this lunchtime. He looked a little frayed around the edges. He was sporting a shiny suit, rumpled shirt and stubble as black as his sorry heart. The line between 'rough and ready sex-god' and 'brutish binman up before the magistrate' is a fine one. It is Pompous's tragedy to eternally look like the latter. There was a genuine reason for his slipshod appearance today though, he is due to become a father any second. He is also 'on notice' for our overdue OFSTED inspection. We all expect that both happy events will occur at the same time. It will be interesting to see where his priorities lie.
Having Pompous in the staffroom at lunchtime is a pain in the fucking arse. Our usual wicked Stepford banter withers on the vine in the beastly buffoon's presence. Why can't the oaf stay quarantined in his office? The uncomfortable silence was punctuated by the cackle and hiss of his 'walkie talkie' and the angry and resentful crunching of Stepford Ryvita. Eventually one of my fellow Stepfords crumbled and did the unspeakable, she engaged the clod in conversation.
'So. When exactly is your due date Pompous?'
'Well, they say it is the 3rd of February, but I just don't think that's right.'
'Oh, why not?'
'Why, that's impossible, that means the baby was conceived when I was away in India last year on that school exchange programme. Aye, they've got it wrong.'
What happened next could have been choreographed by Busby Berkeley himself. 12 female teachers, in perfect synchronicity, smiled wryly at each other as they genteelly sipped their tea and (ever so slightly) raised their eyebrows to heaven.
Pompous's radio spluttered into life. It was King Cravat (our Dance and Drama teacher) calling for assistance on the yard.
'Pompous, Pompous, Code Red, Code Red!!! Key Stage 2 yard!!! Year 6 riot! Teaching assistant down.'
Pompous slumped forward and held his head in his meaty hands. Eventually he roused himself and plodded off to face the bedlam of the lunchtime playground. Pompous has his own terrifying way of crushing violence and unrest at the SOHK. He walks up to the culprit, shakes his head sadly and utters the fearsome words.
'Now come on pet, calm down there.'
See? Heart-stoppingly chilling. He truly does rule with a rod of licorice.
In the staffroom, after Pompous had left, we Stepfords sat in contentedly in silence as we listened to the oaf's footsteps retreating down the corridor.
'Blimey, Pompous Pilate on a Jeremy Kyle DNA special. I'd pay good money to see that!'
* Tudor dancing: strictly speaking, more prancing than dancing. This, in theory, constituted my weekly PE lesson, yet it involved little more than a few exaggerated curtsies and some slow walking, hand-in-hand, to lute music.