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Class act with a happy ending

Sometimes life throws up little treats - experiences you're desperate to share with others. The school trip to see Waiting for Godot was one of them.

Gordon in the drama department asks me if I fancy a free ticket to the theatre. And what's on? My favourite play, of course. But how will a bunch of Year 10 girls find the show?

We get to the theatre around 7pm. The girls look more alike than they do at school - bleached jeans and make-up. They're buzzing.

Across the bar, I notice a Year 13 girl from my teaching practice at a high-flying high school (lots of clipped vowels and an indoor climbing wall). She's more at home here than our kids. I speak to her. She's off to Oxbridge next year to "read", not "do" English. (My Year 10s go to tech on Thursdays to "read" hairdressing.) I feel protective. Like my kids, I'm excited by a night off the street but aware of not fitting in. They jump up and down when I say they can eat in the auditorium.

Some go outside to smoke or send a text message. What can I say? This is their identity, and my job is to believe in them, to respect them. So I shake my head and go back inside.

After the Cokes, we're ushered in. Soon it's curtain up. Two tramps sit motionless and the pink hue of false light spills on to our laps. Then:

"Whahahah!" The girls free a laugh that takes the place by storm. I bite my tongue. Someone behind smiles at me in sympathy. My toes curl. The giggles seem to last all night. A woman ahead of us turns. "Shhh!" she implores, shaking her head in disgust.

"Who's he, Sir?" Rachel whispers to me. I remain silent. Then comes my moment of pride. Didi begins to speak and the place erupts. "Yes!" I hiss to myself - our kids from the estate, the same girls who upset the culture vulture in row D, are ahead of the game. The GCSE drama group laughs before any other soul in the room. This is a comedy and our lot are first to get it.

I sit back. Potential hairdressers are having fun, and I'm being paid to be a part of it. You see, that's what education, literature and teaching are all about. Surprises. Being as good as the woman in the fourth row. Being able to express yourself. And I'm as proud as hell to be here.

I think about my career, and for the first time ever I disagree with Beckett - there is indeed something to be done.

Graham Bell teaches at Almondbury high school, Kirklees

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