Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Apes of Wrath: Inspectors and Interweb Dating Miscreants

An Inspector Calls

Oh dear. Apologies for the deathly silence. I am OK. I do hope you weren't picturing my lurcher-nibbled corpse decomposing betwixt Cath Kidston sheets, surrounded by discarded Galaxy wrappers, absinthe bottles and a note scrawled on the back of my Dorothy Parker poetry anthology saying,


No, I am fine. Do not concern yourselves.

After frittering my half-term holiday away on trifles (I speak literally, not metaphorically, I refer to Marks and Spencer Cherry Bakewell trifles) I was feeling rather unprepared for the School of Hard Knocks on Monday. I had, rather half-heartedly, planned my week's lessons the previous night. I managed to do this whilst watching The Killing on I-Player. The fact that The Killing is subtitled should give you a clue as to how little attention I was actually paying to the content of the lessons. I'd had many grand ambitions for my half-term holiday. I failed at all of them.

Imagine my horror when, on Monday morning, Pompous Pilate (the dreary despot of the SOHK) summoned us all to his plush office say that he had just taken THE CALL. I refer, of course, to the OFSTED call. The inspectors were visiting us on Wednesday and Thursday. I shan't bore you with details of the actual inspection. I shall just make these points,

  • OFSTED inspections are intense and forensic in their detail. They examine everything. They grade everything. No stone is left unturned. It is all most stressful.
  • Recent changes to the way OFSTED assess schools mean that now, ultimately, a school is only as good as its last year's test results. SOHK results were dire (only 50% of our Year 6 reached the required levels for literacy and numeracy. The government target is 80%).
  • The consequences of failing an OFSTED are severe.

'They could call into classrooms at any time. You'll have to write detailed lesson plans for every lesson while the inspectors are in and make sure every lesson is inspiring and creative. One of you will have a double inspection, with me and the lead inspector. Miss Underscore, that will be you. I'll try and swing it that we watch a literacy lesson, eh? I know it's your favourite subject. Err. . . you won't be including any severed heads this time will you? Best not, best not eh?'

They did indeed come in to my English class. It all went very well indeed. Sadly, the overall rating of the school was not great. SOHK just scraped through with an 'average' rating. The way schools are graded is deeply unfair. It assumes all children have equal chances and opportunities in life, and assumes all schools compete on a level playing field. Neither is true.

Anyway, I did snigger to hear that Pompous's own leadership had just been rated as 'satisfactory'. He he he! I wonder if this will temper his outrageous arrogance and sanctimony. I am just pleased the whole thing is over. We won't have another inspection for 3 years. I think, quite frankly, it will take me 3 years to get over this one.

Not So Great Expectations

I have dipped my ballet pump back in the sordid waters of internet dating. I do not, for one moment, think that I will meet the swarthy rogue of my dreams there. I have been, quite frankly, appalled at the standard of ne're do wells that I appear to be attracting. This is a breakdown of my top interweb wooers, thus far. I promise you, dear readers, these are all (tragically) 100% true.

1. A man with the nom de plume BaldingGoth. Tempting as it is to revist the 1980s and hang around a municipal war memorial with a straggly haired man in a floor length leather coat, I think I shall pass.

2. A gent who wooed me with the winning line

'I have been debt-free for 3 years.'

That's more than I have little fella! However, I need more than that from a partner. I want to be overwhelmed by a intense intellectual and sexual connection. So overwhelmed that I fail to notice the fact that my beloved is actually a cold and controlling cunt, who spends his time watching Top Gear whilst making pointed comments that decimate my fragile self-worth.

3. Daz from Northumbria seduced me with his profundity and his ability to play fast and loose with the spellchecker,

'Hello gorgus how u duin'

No thank you Daz. And that goes for every other man in his 30s and 40s who still refers to himself Daz/ Jaz/ Baz/ Chaz or twatting Spaz.

4. George (a meter reader) from Durham. George, you hypnotised me with your first picture. You looked like Daniel Day Lewis. Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans (not My Left Foot). Then I clicked on your second picture. You looked like Moe from The Simpsons. George, you embody the dictum 'less is more'.

5. Steve, also from Durham, you look like Fred West. However, your dog (a basset hound) is adorable. Can I date him instead?

Similarly, a rather attractive lawyer 'winked' at me. I eagerly checked out his profile, he had posted a snap of his two horses nuzzling each other in a wintry meadow. I was momentarily charmed. Then suspicious. He didn't mention any horses in his profile. He lived in a riverside flat in central Newcastle. He has no horses! They were stunt horses! Horses for display purposes only. Downloaded from Google Images, probably. The slippery cove!

6. A gentleman writes to me, specifying, he is looking for a lady who can cook corned beef pie and wire a plug. (Honestly, would I make this stuff up? COULD I make this up?)

7. Tommy. Tommy, you are 19 years old. You are gorgeous but what, in the name of Sam Taylor Wood, are you doing hitting on 40 year old primary school teachers on the internet? I have knickers older than you.

8. A scientist. Wooo Hooo! A man with a decent job, sound the klaxon!! This boffin works in a laboratory, no less. I hopefully read his email,

'I have a gud job working in the lab of a Walkers crisp factory.'

Oh dear. The Nobel Prize for Science has never, as far as I am aware, been awarded for services to the potato based snack industry. Mind you, this man has very obvious fringe benefits. (Have you tried the new Walkers Extra Crunchy?) I could put up with a man with cheesy fingers if he could satisfy my compulsive need to nibble.

9. A silver-haired fanny rat. A man who is the DOUBLE of Mad Men's louche, chain-smoking, vodka-necking Roger Stirling 'winks' at me. Darn it. Why couldn't it have been Don Draper?

10. Two chaps deserve a mention for choosing the most unsuitable dating nom-de-plume's, firstly there was Question Mark. I expect the cove was aiming for enigmatic 'secret agent' with his choice of name. He was actually a BNP supporting taxi driver.

Deep Thinker, I expected great things from Deep Thinker's email. I had my Oxford English Dictionary and Philosophy for Dummies at the ready. Consequently, I was slightly disheartened to read,

'Hi, chilly this morning innit?'

11. A man who calls himself 'assman', who 'used to work in a kitchen in Blackpool' and who looks like Roy Chubby Brown. A tempting offer, but, no thank you, sir.

12. Dearest Frankie47 I think we have something in common. I can tell just by looking at you. That golden and ethereal glow to your skin, don't deny it, you're wearing Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick aren't you? In 'Bronze', if I am not mistaken. In my opinion, real men only require a brisk rub down with soap, sandpaper or some sort of Black and Decker device. No man of the male gender will ever share my Shimmer Bricks. Never.

So, there you are, dearest readers, a very sorry gaggle of gigalos, I think you'll agree. I have not been tempted to even reply to any of them, let alone arrange a date. Please, do tell about your own interweb dating experiences. Please tell me I am not the only player in this desolate theatre of the absurd.


  1. Oh dear. 'Average' is not the best or most inspiring thing for either teachers or children to hear. Telling though that the charming head obviously thought that you were his best shot at impressing the inspectors.

    You're not alone in your interweb dating disappointments. Don't give up hope though, there are single men that can pick their knuckles off the floor and even write a whole correctly spelled sentence. Although when I was out there I was quite impressed if a man hadn't posted a picture of himself with his top off posing by his chavmobile car. I met my bloke on a site that pre-dated Facebook (Interweb dating was still not quite cool then but I read about the site in the Guardian so it must have been ok). He was a little bit plumper then and had long dreadlocks that smelt like the bits of carpet you might put over your weeds, but he was still cute, very funny and genuine and lovely and we've been together 7 years now. I did manage to date his friend first. Embarrassing. Luckily he is an only child so I narrowly missed the brother thing.
    I think I've repressed the worst memories of bad dates, although there was the gorgeous graphic designer who was strangely on/off which didn't do my confidence much good. Turned out he had only recently split up with his self-harming girlfriend (which would explain why he didn't fancy Thirteen at the cinema) and she was about to have his baby. More baggage than Mary Poppins that one.
    I think I can see why the 19-year old is pursuing you - he thinks you're Jessie J (kerching kerching). I'd recommend younger men, although if he's 19 I bet he has an Arsenal duvet cover which only gets washed every 6 months. My bloke is 10 years younger and it works, although there are occasional drawbacks - he's never heard of The Cult, mocks my 90's cheesy quaver days and is currently downstairs watching The Hulk on Skyplus.

    Glad you are ok.

  2. Ha ha! You really made me laugh Claire. The older I get, the more attractive a younger man sounds BUT I cleaned my make up mirror last week. (Half term = half hearted housework) CHRIST, THE SHOCK. Never again will I clean my make up mirror. The combination of Spring sunshine and a smudge free mirror meant I had to confront my decomposition. Not so much Jessie J, possibly more Jessie James (as he looks now). I think with a younger man I would turn into a right diva, insisting on candlelight and dark glasses at all times.

    I am glad your internet dating experience was such a resounding success. It gives me hope. I am still kicking myself for never going on a date with the one-legged Songs of Praise session musician. I doubt we'd have made beautiful music together, but what a story that would have been!

    It also doesn't help that I look at the match.com rogues and think, ' Fuck it, he's just not Rochester.'


  3. My son's school was Ofsteded (if that is the correct term) last year. The day before I was helping out in class and Miss D had me sharpening pencils. I assumed she was just feeling a bit panicky and not thinking straight. But now you say that they really do inspect EVERYTHING. Christ, I hope I didn't scupper anything with my poor pencil sharpening (I'll be honest, I did not do them to a uniform sharpness or length. In fact it was a completely haphazard exercise).

  4. We got issued BRAND NEW PENCILS for our OFSTED. I expect they will be taken off us tomorrow and locked away until the next inspection.

    Poor Miss D. I can sympathise. I even hid my tube of L'Occitane shea butter hand cream and Jo Malone perfume. They usually sit on my desk. I worried they would be considered a health and safety hazard. Of course, the most offensive and hazardous object in the classroom I really wanted to hide in a drawer was Doreen (the world's most inappropriate teaching assistant). Thankfully, every time the inspectors came to visit my class, Doreen was off on one of her wanders.

  5. My personal favourites: the guy who referred to himself as an "Investment Banker" (note the capitalization), and the guy who was "not looking for a meaningless one night stand" but was also in an open relationship with a partner, which made their relationship "exciting". Same person who liked to "spin house music whenever I get the chance at a party".


  6. If Year 6 did poorly and a certain gentleman did too (HA!), then you and your class must have been OUTSTANDING to even out the difference and give you a so-so all in all?

    - A severed head would have made all the difference, though, it would have brought your school right into the first league. In the museum world the mantra is a mummy - a museum with its own mummy is a lucky creature indeed.

    I am lusting for an opportunity to run about with a blood-stained head under one arm (I just love working with teenagers, works every time - reptilian's brain syndrome while busy growing?:-D. I mean, we had a king who beheaded 82 bishops in one go. And then his adversaries gave his mistress a basket of poisoned cherries. Surely there must be a lesson for them in this somewhere?

    (No, seriously, their trust in us makes our responsibility all the greater, the blood is of course just our showing them that we invest our whole being to make a difference for them)

    Isn't the net a sea of Rochesters? The last time I was manning a table at a fair, the result was requests for Facebook-friendship from a sexologist and a Buddhist monk in one go. I know, it probably says more about my personal signals...

    Cannot wait to read your next chapter of the Great Book of Life!

    Louise XX

  7. I laughed so much I nearly snorted my coffee! I can't sadly give you any stories of interweb dating as it hadn't been invented when I was last dipping my little pinkies into the dating pool but I did once answer a Lonely Hearts ad in a paper. I climbed out through the window of the restaurant toilet to escape my charming 'date'. Should give you some idea of what a success the evening was! Found you through Every Silver Lining and am now stalking... sorry, following you.

  8. I met my fiancé on the internet...our first date was horrendous! He was squinting and I thought perhaps he had Tourets. Turns out his contact lenses were bothering him. I left after 20 minutes by creating some excuse about having to meet my cousin who was indeed visiting from out of town.
    There was nearly no second date, but I was quite desperate and although he was squinty/twitchy he was very handsome when not squinting.
    I am posting this annonymously because I am still ashamed that we met on the internet, it just doesn't live up to the grand romantic fiction I had hoped for. Pathetic, I know.
    But anyway, the moral of the story is give a couple of decent looking chaps a chance; they may actually turn out to be quite nice. if I had based my judgement of my fiancé only on his profile (vague, weird and slightly gay) and our first date (twitchy, blinky and abruptly ended) I would still be alone or sleeping with the sexy bloke that actually never wants to be in a relationship.
    So...most non-skeezeball men cannot write well, and are so nervous when meeting a woman their first impressions (online or in person) are so fucked up it is a miracle they ever get a real date, or a second date.
    I believe it's the penis-brain wiring that makes it difficult for them to be coherent and normal until the third date.

  9. Oh M - I am glad I am not the only tosser-magnet.

    Louise - thank you so much for your comment. A sexologist and a Buddhist monk? I am slack-jawed with admiration. I now feel I have missed out on one of life's great experiences, namely, pulling a Buddhist monk. We don't have many Buddhist monks in Sunderland though. Would a Jehovah's Witness in an orange sweater count?

    Wyle Girl - thank you for the comment. I thought people only climbed through toilet windows in French farces. I am SO impressed. I am far too polite to do such a thing. I could find myself sat opposite Fred West and still sit there chatting about the weather.

  10. Miss Anonymous - thanks for the comment. I am glad it all worked out for you.

    I DO probably put to much emphasis on the quality of the fella's writing. I like a man who can write well. I can't help but assume that a man who is too lazy to place an apostrophe correctly will have a similarly slapdash approach to foreplay.

    I will try to remain open-minded. I will.

  11. Robin Williams summed up the whole dating thing nicely when he said that God gave men a brain and a penis but not enough blood to run both at the same time. If you bear that in mind during your interweb dating sprees, you should be okay. Probably.

  12. The saddest interweb date was the tiny, desperately shy, ginger man in the giant overcoat with Derren Brown beard/tache/roll neck combo (I have nothing against Derren Brown, but it didn't really work on a tiny ginger Belgian guy).

    He was entirely mute. I thought we were having a drink but it turned out it was dinner. I worried at a mark on my arm until it bled during the INTERMINABLE meal and left my bag behind in my haste to get away. I still want to cry thinking of it. It wasn't that he was awful either, it was just so desperately silent and stilted and sad. And afterwards he emailed to say he'd had "une soirée formidable". Sob.

    See also:

    - guy with the machine gun in his profile shot, who I actually had coffee with; and

    - guy who was looking for a laydee to pee on him

    - guy who turned out to be 55, pinstripe wearing and bitterly furious about his divorce was also fun.

    Ah, happytimes.

  13. In the same way that women claim the brain blocks out the pain of childbirth so that they can bear it again, I think I have blocked most of my internet dating experiences. However, there are a few who spring instantly to mind:

    - The U-Boat obsessive/rat fancier. I spotted him as I drove past and willed God that he wasn't who I was coming to meet. All that convent school education was wasted - he was. Fortunately I had glandular fever at the time and so had a genuine reason to 'go home and rest' 30 mins after I got there.
    - Countless midgets. I am relatively tall at 5ft 8ins but I never met anyone who claimed to be less than 5ft 10ins. Not a ONE of them was taller than me.
    - The sweetheart who, on hearing me talk warmly about a former boyfriend's father who worked in the same office, proceeded to tell me he'd long thought he was no good at his job and was 'on the fiddle'.
    - And finally, we come to the one I made the mistake of meeting more than once. I thought he was a bit of a tosser as soon as we met, but I was still quite hung up on the last boyfriend and so gave him the benefit of the doubt. He invited me to an outdoor concert with picnic/fireworks at a glorious stately home (he did hint at my paying for my own ticket, I might add). The day dawned, one of the few truly beautiful summers days that year - baking hot and not a cloud in the sky. From the minute we met, he whinged. Too hot, too far to walk from the car, didn't like the company, too expensive for the ice creams, music too loud, music not played well enough, fireworks not spectacular enough and so it went on and on. On the journey home he continued until I told him that if I'd wanted to listen to whingeing all night I'd have stayed at home with my father. Even better still, about a year later I had an email from him asking if we could meet up because he'd been thinking about me. So far, so deluded. But he went on to confess that work was rubbish and he needed to 'let off some steam' about it and I was a great listener.

    I am now very happily attached to the most gorgeous man. I swear, though, if it all goes Pete Tong I'd enter a convent before I did the internet thing again.

  14. Ah Waffle. I too have experienced the peeing request from an internet rogue. One would have assumed there was a specialist dating site for such debased perverts. I am trying to imagine what such a website would be called. . .not match.com, how about damp-patch.com?

    Innormality. I completely agree that interweb dating sites are swarming with midgets. EVERY man I met had added 2 inches (to his height). I was emailed by a chap last night who claimed to be 5' 5''. I bet he is ACTUALLY a munchkin.

  15. ..or an oompaloompa, perhaps.

    All time worst internet date: I met an American man, (he told me he'd made a lot of money making non-slip (anti-lawsuit) hotel bath cleaner, incidentally), in Central Park, who wanted to walk his small ferocious dog to the French Embassy to "pee on it". It was around the time of the invasion of Iraq.

    He also used the word "sensual" in my presence.

    Terrible, terrible, terrible.

    Mild, though, compared to what Waffle suffered at the hands of the mute minute Belgian man. OH NO, that was awful, I could cry too.

  16. SENSUAL!!!

    Dear God! I am sure he was a 'feathery stroker' (to use Marian Keyes' fantastic phrase). That really made me laugh.

    All these internet dating stories warm my cynical and wounded heart. A lesbian friend of mine went on match.com a while back. She was 'winked' at by a woman who had posed for her profile pic grouting tiles. I kid you not!

  17. I'm doing interweb dating too but suspect my heart's not in it cos it all seems a bit of an effort so far! So far not too many weirdos but will keep you posted...

  18. Your OFSTED inspection sounds like the JCAHO inspections we have to endure in US hospitals. They can make unannounced inspections and I've seen teams of hospital administrators running ahead of the inspectors, warning "JCAHO is coming! JCAHO is coming!"

    Oh my goodness! All those tantalizing possibilities in the internet dating world!