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A dose of the new Chanel No.5 gave me a headache


I seem to be mastering the art of my smartphone at last, and our 16-year-old daughter Margaret has now begun to initiate me into the world of "tweeting". I've even set up my own tweeting page to update an expectant world on happenings in the Simpson family. So far, I've got seven followers (four of whom, I admit, are my immediate family or relatives), but I'm hoping to build that number fairly swiftly. Even Justin Bieber - a popular singing star of today, according to Margaret - had to start somewhere ...

One thing that I certainly won't be tweeting on is my forthcoming colonoscopy at the end of the week, an intrusive investigation initiated by my doctor after several weeks of severe gastric disorders in the autumn, when the happiest piece of news I had was that the Rockston pharmacy was doing a three-for-two offer on Imodium. Although the problem has now abated slightly, my doctor wants to be sure that there is nothing sinister afoot, so has insisted I go through with this particularly uncomfortable episode of "Candid Camera", as he so quaintly termed it. Somehow, the last day of term holds less attraction than usual for me.


I welcomed a new pupil into Class 1N this morning, who looks likely to disturb the reasonably calm equilibrium of the group, enhanced as it normally is by the presence of Sam Smyth and his Scripture Union friends.

Chanel Butcher looks as if she will provide a significant behavioural counterpart to their placid work ethic: by the end of her first period with us, she had shouted out inappropriate comments at every possible juncture, refused to stop playing with her mobile phone and asked to go to the toilet three times, a request I refused until she announced - face awash with grimacing, hand placed firmly between her legs - "Ah'm goanny pee masel', Sur, ah really am - ma doactur says youse've goat tae let me go - it's ma condition!"

Faced with such medical challenge, I had little option other than to let her go, but I asked her to stay behind at the lesson's end for a one-to-one chat, wherein I explained the need for better behaviour. Looking to get the child "onside", as well as check the family background, I asked whether she had any siblings in the school.

"Aye," she confirmed: "Dior's in thurd year, Lily's in fourth, an the twins Tamara and Trinity ur in sixth year." My brain winced at the thought of four other female Butchers in Greenfield Academy - at which point the likely reason behind her name became apparent ...

"And I'm guessing you're called Chanel because ...?" I raised an enquiring eyebrow.

"Because ah'm Numbur 5," she grinned.

I look forward with mixed emotions to meeting her mother. Not to mention her sisters.


Sam Smyth has sent me a Christmas card "wishing you, Mrs Simpson and all the family a joyous and blessed Christmas, from Sam and all the Scripture Union - and best wishes for your colonoscopy on Friday."

It was a very nice gesture, but I wondered how the devil he knew about my procedure until I discovered tonight that Margaret had put the news on her Facebook page. There are no secrets in the digital world.


The first day of my enforced early Christmas break was taken up with the euphemistically titled "bowel preparation" in readiness for tomorrow. In brief, this consisted of starving myself of all sustenance, while a fiendish powder mix drink worked its way through my system and sent me on many and various visits to the lavatory. I would rather have been teaching 1N, Chanel Butcher and all.


I would prefer to draw a veil over today's events. The nurse in charge of preparations congratulated me on my choice of aftershave. "Ah hope ye've goat it oan in a' the right places," she laughed cheekily as she gave me a bag for my clothes and a gown to cover (most of) my dignity.

With regard to the actual procedure, I have to take issue with the doctor's remarks that it would be uncomfortable but not painful, as I'm sure the shocked look on my face must have conveyed once his fervent probings had started. Lying on my side, knees drawn upwards as I sneaked a look at the monitors beside the bed, I found it difficult to draw breath, but eventually managed to grit my teeth and bear it.

"Sorry about that," he announced jovially at the end: "Not very good bowel prep, meant I had a few obstructions! But don't worry, Mr Simpson, it's all clear -" he pointed to the monitor "- there wasn't anything to see on the TV, so to speak. Unusual for the Christmas season, eh?"

Sitting in the waiting room afterwards, waiting for Gail to pick me up, I went online through my mobile for the latest TESS news, and noted the continuing anger of the profession in relation to a likely 1 per cent pay rise next year, with one union leader in particular commenting: "Teachers have been shafted for the past three years, and they're getting shafted again."

It seemed the ideal moment to tweet on my latest experience after all. What a start to Christmas.

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