Sunday, 4 November 2012

A new start, a funeral and an unexpected encounter. . .

Hello.  I return.  Gosh, it has been 5 months.  First, I shall give you the headlines:


I am leaving The School of Hard Knocks.  In January, I take up a post as Assistant Head at a new school.  I am so thrilled about this, I can't tell you.  My only nagging concern is that I am going to have to be all impressive and shit.  Am I up to it?  That is a worry.  I expect I am not. Still, it is much more money, and I gain immense satisfaction from the fact that I am abandoning Pompous Pilate, and leaving him without a Year 6 teacher, just in time for his next OFSTED inspection! JOY!

I have decided though, after suffocating under Pompous's regime of blustering ineptitude and bungling farce, that I really want to have my own school.  I am not even sure just being a Headteacher would do it.  I want to set up an Underscore Academy.  I would separate boys and girls:

Boys (in the Tony Benn wing) would study allotment management, old-school socialism,  tent erection,  pipe-smoking,  bonfire building, the wit of Woody Allen, the suavity of Cary Grant and the poetry of Ted Hughes.  Their uniform would be tan cords and chunky knit sweaters.  They would raise funds for the school by farming  cashmere goats and training fleets of gleaming, cravat-wearing retired  greyhounds to ferry people around town.

Girls (in the Judi Dench wing) would study the novels of Daphne du Maurier and the poetry of Dorothy Parker.  There would be compulsory courses in fanny-rat identification. The girls would be experts in word politics and economics, but also study for a Bobbi Brown diploma in lipstick/ blusher co-ordination and flicky eyeliner. Their uniform would be a neat cashmere cardigan, tweed pencil skirt and ballet pumps.  Knitting and crochet would be an acceptable form of PE, as would beating egg whites for meringues and piping whipped cream into a brandy snap biscuit.   Girls would have lessons in spring and summer underneath ancient oak trees or by a sparkling, silver river.  In autumn and winter, their lessons would be in front of log fires, accompanied by fondant fancies, pots of strong tea and The Boatman's Call.

Doesn't it all sound heavenly?  Will Michael Gove go for it, do you think?

Anyway, in sadder news, there has been a death in the family this week.   I have almost no family to speak of left.  My lovely parents have been dead for many years, and I am estranged from my brothers. Only a few eccentric aunties remain.  Aunty Margaret is (thankfully) still with us, but Aunty Joan, sadly is not.  Joan, my mother's youngest sister, was an ample, bosomy, cat-riddled spinster; dusted with talcum powder, icing sugar and fascist spite.  She lived in the same colliery two-up, two-down  her whole life.  Her twilight years (from 25-80) were spent obsessively watching musicals starring effete, dilettante crooner Nelson Eddy and devouring Bounty bars by the dozen.  I didn't visit Aunty Joan as often as I should have.  She was very hard work.  After spending 99.9% of her time alone, she viewed visitors as a plump, twin-set wearing spider might view fly.  A conversation with Joan was exhausting; she swung randomly from one subject to another, like an angry gorilla through the trees. She was prickly,  cantankerous,  opinionated and often deliberately and malevolently cruel.

She died alone, riddled with a merciless cancer that she had obsessively hid from everyone (including herself) for years.  It haunts me, the thought of how isolated and scared she must have felt at the end.  If I were in her position; if I fell gravely ill, who would I tell?  I have come to the conclusion that, like Aunty Joan, I probably would tell no one.  We share an almost perverse independence that borders on reclusion.

Her funeral is this week.   Here you are, Aunty Joan,  a picture just for you.

Anyway, I am sure you are all wondering what has become of feckless, fanny-rat salesman, Rochester.  Were you not?  Oh well.  I shall tell you anyway.  This week, the rogue made a most unexpected and unsettling reappearance in my life.   .   .   . I shall nip out with the lurchers and then return to tell you the torrid tale. 


  1. Welcome back! Very well done with the new job. I love Hetty's snood and await with horror and baited breath for the next anecdote about the ne'er-do-well peg salesman.

  2. Hooray! Welcome back - you were sorely missed. Jolly well done on the new job and I approve of your academy immensely. I, too, am desperate to hear what your own personal Heathcliff has been up to...

  3. Just when I am about to take you off my reading list...up you pop.
    Welcome back and well done on the new job.
    Your school sounds heavenly.....if you advertise vacancies I would be happy to apply for either working in the large, warm, cosy kitchen or washing out jam jars in the art department, or assisting the handsome head gardener in the potting shed and pootling about in the large greenhouse, where of course I will be wearing stout shoes and delicate gardening gloves.

  4. Haha. Bugger Govey! (or don't - I can't imagine it being pleasant at all). I'll sign my wains up for the Underscore Academy. Though you'll need to move North. Far North. As in take your passport with you North.
    You'll knock 'em dead. I have no doubt. You will be the best AHT.
    Also I am sorry about Aunty Joan. I don't know her. But it could've been my Gran Tess you were describing.
    And Lurchers are my favourite dog. Ever. You didn't split off from me about 1989? Cos you are living the life I thought I'd be living. Ah well.

  5. Excellent, you're back!
    Your aunt sounded like a tough cookie, at least on the outside. Your portrait of her was very touching.

  6. Delighted to see you back and I when my numbers come up I will send you a large cheque for your school.

    Congrats on the new job and well done with the timing. Don't get all serious on us though.

    Sorry to hear about your aunt. Shame she died so alone but what you reap...

    And I of course cannot wait to hear the next instalment of your saga with the suave, smooth and sophisticated man of culture that is Rochester.

  7. It is not too late to take another turn at school? Please sign me up! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    I am so sorry for your aunt, hers is a tale which haunts us all, but you have proven that you're a fighter taking the family example in a new direction.

    Louise xxx

  8. I approve of the boys curriculum with the exception of "the wit of Woody Allen". That would be a short course in misogyny. How about mixing it up a bit and making them study the wit of Ivy Compton Burnett, who had a good line in school fiction.

  9. God, you've been missed! Well done on your new appointment. As for being "impressive and shit" Just fake 'til you make it. That's what we all do ;)

  10. My goodness, I've been missing your words of wisdom...has it been 5 months?

    I like your idea of the new school curriculum (although I do think that OFSTED may not).

    But you missed important parts of the boys' study plan.

    Where was the Advanced Double Glazing Sales Techniques?
    Where was the use and care of firearms? the care of suede shoes? the major erogenous zones of female women?

    Think big!

    BTW, congratulations on your new job. Have you been assigned your duties yet?