Some would argue that they now look better than they did 10 years ago, while others simply buy bigger clothes. A glance in the mirror on a cold and frosty November morning says it all. Am I getting too old for this teaching business?
The very mention of winding down brings a blessed relief for those colleagues who have tolerated several years of being the victims of winding up. We are an ageing profession, and there are those of us who readily identify with the TOGs (Terry's Old Geezers), as featured by Terry Wogan on Radio 2.
Listeners to his programme will be familiar with the many witty contributions from the audience, eager to spot the telltale signs of advancing years. Many of us will be scratching our heads after staff meetings to hear of the latest initiatives, and asking: "Is it me?". Here are some key moments when you should begin to question your own continuing presence in the staffroom:
* You think megabytes are sold at Burger King or McDonalds.
* You remember teaching the grandparents of this year's P1 intake.
* You fall asleep at lunchtime on day 1 of the new term.
* You fall asleep at morning playtime on day 2 of the new term.
* You don't think that the heidie should have that body-piercing.
* You think that 5-14 is nearly quarter past five.
* You have attended the retirement function for your colleague, and her mother before that.
* You think Higher Still is something to do with a Speyside malt.
* You are the only member of staff who still eats at lunchtime.
* Your own children are older than the new headteacher.
* You are the same age as the probationer's granny.
lYou are the probationer's granny. l You try to open the car door with the classroom key.
* You lived through the whole period described in the P7 history book.
* You appear in a photo in the same book.
* You think Standard grade is something to do with eggs.
* Yours is the only navel not on display at the staff night out.
* You can sing the original version of the latest chart-topper.
* You remember when Hibs won the League.
* You are worried about the next episode of Coronation Street.
* You long for the return of the county syllabus.
* The heidie asks you what an integrated day was.
* You aren't afraid of the new HMI - you can remember his father when he came to the school to do an inspection.
* You opt out of the staff race at the school sports, despite being offered a start of 80 metres.
* You are glad when the cleaner stops for a blether.
Please do not worry if you recognise any, or some, of the symptoms. They are not causes of concern. Many colleagues who have decided to retire will tell you that there comes one moment when the skies clear and a little voice in your head says: "Come on pal, you're getting far too old for this lark!"
For me it came with the delivery of the next session's stock order. I duly unloaded pallet after pallet and placed the goodies safely away in the stock cupboard. I thought all was well until I saw the identification code on the boxes of powder paint. Burnt Sienna. Burnt Sienna. Burnt Sienna. More Burnt Sienna. Burnt Sienna.
I rushed to the order form, ready to blame the incompetence of some faceless dispatch clerk. Imagine my horror when I read the small print:
"Multiples of 100." I had only ordered 400 tins of the stuff.
I decided that even by swapping Burnt Sienna for any other colour with my colleagues would only prolong my agony. They would know what I'd done. The shame, the indignity of it all. So I sought the advice of the mirror on the wall. The mirror was exceedingly generous, and advised me to go while I still had my own teeth and professional dignity. I went.