Sometimes I wonder whether we should have the Christmas closure a week earlier than we do, for all the academic work that's done in these final days. All the kids can think about are their imminent Christmas parties, so that maintaining interest in scholarly pursuits is a thankless task.
This afternoon, for example, it proved impossible to stop a wide selection of low-level indiscipline from 2C, ranging from a quietly whistled version of Jingle Bells, whose source it proved impossible to locate, through to the muttered conversations that took place whenever I turned to face the whiteboard.
One such interruption infuriated me, when Jason Bonetti - the child responsible last month for pulling down my trousers while my back was turned - started yet another interchange with Pocahontas Mcleod and Ahmal Patel. Angrily, I asked him what he was talking about, and was appalled to have the boy respond with an outrageous insult: "You tube, sir," he started, but I didn't let him get any further.
"Jason, that's enough!" I cut across his bows and issued an immediate punishment exercise.
"But sir!" he protested. "Ah wisny..."
"Enough!" I brooked no further challenge to my authority. Sometimes it pays to be firm.
I have had to rescind Jason Bonetti's punishment exercise, or at least Kevin Muir has.
"His mother was furious, Morris," explained our depute head at morning break.
"But don't you think I had a right to issue a punishment, Kevin? He called me a tube, for heaven's sake!"
"Well, they maintain he didn't, Morris. They say that you asked him what he was talking about, and that he told you, after which you 'went ballistic'."
"Kevin," I explained patiently, "I asked him a question, and he said 'You tube, sir'. Now what could be plainer than that?"
"Morris," he replied with equal patience. "He was telling you that he'd been talking about 'YouTube' - one word, with a capital 'T' in the middle."
"What's YouTube?" I asked, puzzled.
"Oh, Morris," he shook his head sadly: "It's a website where anyone can put videos of themselves on line, and it's - look, check it out yourself, but for the moment Bonetti's story is backed up by everyone he was talking to, and I've had no choice but to rescind the punishment." My God. It'll be barbarians at the gates next.
It was the second-year dance tonight, so I had the dubious pleasure of supervising hordes of unruly teenagers whose hormones are rampant and whose morals seem non-existent.
It's with some distant regret that I remember my own school dances, when any boy and girl attempting to engage in oral contact in a quiet corner would have their heads banged together by a roaming patrol of senior masters. Today, even the politest request that a couple disengage from what appears to be near-fulsome sexual coalition is met with hooded eyes, a look of disdain, and a recommencing of amorous activities as soon as we turn our backs.
So it was with a sense of relief that I saw the clock head towards finishing time and the pupils draw into a circle for Auld Lang Syne. For a moment, they looked almost likeable as they celebrated the end of term together, and for another moment I even saw Jason Bonetti in a kindlier light, his little face suffused with excitement and Christmas cheer as he released another party-popper into the air.
"Jason," I called him over in a fit of Yuletide charity. "I'm sorry about that misunderstanding on Monday. It was just that you'd been annoying me rather a lot with your chattering. But let's hope we can start off the new year on a better footing, eh?" He looked suspicious, but accepted my outstretched hand as I wished him a Merry Christmas and appealed to his better nature: "It's just that sometimes, Jason, I think you're a wee bit of a twisted rascal who could actually do very well if you put your mind to it." He drew his hand away and flashed me an angry glare before turning to join his friends.
Oh well. At least I tried.
Tonight was the senior dance, another contrast to my own school days when most of us would catch a bus, train or even walk to the event.
For today's fifth and sixth years stretch limousines are the order of the day, and I sat aghast in my Nissan Micra near the hotel entrance as a procession of Hummers, Humvees, Chrysler Lambos and Dodge Chargers drew up with the likes of Jessica Charles and Tanya Thomas shrieking excitedly from the open windows with all the appearance of top glamour models attending a Hollywood film premiere.
Unfortunately, that illusion was shattered as soon as they started to speak - "Haw, Tanya, ur youse pished already?" was the first salutation to assail my ears as I girded my loins for the evening ahead.
I left some three hours later as the hotel reception started dialling the police. It's sad that our children grow up so quickly these days...
With hardly any pupils in school for the last day of term, I spent an idle few moments searching round the YouTube website - and was distressed to find thereon a video of the assault on my trousers last month! So you can understand that I was not kindly disposed to be in receipt of yet another summons about Jason Bonetti.
"His mother's complaining again, Morris," explained Kevin Muir. "She says you called him 'a little arsehole' at the dance on Wednesday. You didn't, did you?" I thought back to the evening, and explained that the words used had been "twisted rascal", and described the friendly context.
"I see," mused Kevin. "D'you want me to deal with Mrs Bonetti, or would you rather tell her?"
"You deal with it Kevin," I suggested. "And wish her a merry bloody Christmas from me while you're at it!"