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Fantasy teacher: Paul Ashworth

Who wants to be head of year, when you've got Arsenal and takeaway pizza, says Nick Hornby's laddish hero in Fever Pitch

Just what the world of teaching needs! TV's Mr Darcy as the inspirational head of year in a north London comprehensive.

Er well, not exactly. Our Paul's not the world's most conscientious teacher. Invited to apply for the post, Paul asks Ted-the-Head: "What do I want more work for?" Well, the money surely?

But you see, he earns enough to pay for takeway pizzas and Arsenal tickets. What more can a man ask of life?

Career satisfaction perhaps?

No. Life for Paul Ashworth starts outside the staffroom. As he tells his ambitious girlfriend, Alison "Iron Knickers" Hughes: "Maybe one day you'll learn to care about something you can't tick."

And what exactly does he have in mind?

Arsenal and old pizza boxes.

Is she won over by Nick Hornby's laddish philosophy?

Not at first. Ms Hughes writes Paul off as a cynical old hand because he reads the fixtures list during staff meetings and lets his pupils chant football songs in class. "All kids enjoy a riot, Mr Ashworth - teaching them is something different."

Doesn't really sound as if they've got a lot in common.

Not until she gets pregnant.

I see what you mean about life starting outside the staffroom. And does this prove the making of Paul Ashworth, schoolteacher?

Well, he does apply to be head of year, reckoning he is going to need the extra cash.

And Ted's reaction?

"I don't want you knocking up members of staff. What kind of example does that set to the school?" Paul replies that he is not planning to make a habit of it. But, needless to say, he does not get the job, even though one of the governors supports Arsenal.

Outrageous. And is Paul devastated?

You bet. He gets the news the same day as his team lose at home to Derby.

Enough to leave any man gutted.

At which point Ms Hughes gives up completely on Paul even though he was offering to buy them a flat right next to the Arsenal ground.

Some women are never satisfied. So is there a happy ending?

Oh yes. Paul and Alison get back together.

No, I mean do Arsenal win the Cup?

Oh yes, and Iron Knickers learns to love football. But then she had a good teacher, didn't she?

Adrian Mourby

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