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Final word - Make toast of barbecue oppressors

"So why are they all getting A grades, then?" I hate barbecues. You have to swallow three hours of other people's prejudices before you get anything to eat.

"Teaching looks like a cushy job to me. Like I say, they all get As now, anyway. And your holidays will be even longer when the schools close with swine flu, hahaha!"

The chicken turns slowly. You're going to be here a long time.

Unlike the chicken, though, you still have options. You could marinade this loser in false agreement and then skewer him with facts. All getting As? Only the top 12 per cent.

Also, schools will not close again for swine flu because that didn't work. And we need our holidays. We work just as hard as everyone else. We just squash it into fewer weeks of the year.

You could say all of that, but you'd never win. Twerps like this will always stand near the barbecued chicken and will always sneer at teachers. Yes, it would certainly be nice to roast them with statistics.

"Statistics" is a word best avoided after a few drinks, though. And even if you can quote percentages without getting confused, spouting them makes you sound like a whingeing teacher, which is exactly what teacher-baiting twerps want.

Mr Cushy-Job is just trying to wind you up. So don't let him. If he goads you about your long holidays, don't protest - agree. This will wipe the smirk off his face.

"Yah, the holidays are amazing. It's a time to kick back, sure, but also to take stock of your life, you know? Dust off the guitar and the motorbike. Most people lose touch with those things. Teachers have soooo much time for self-development! I'm taking my scuba diving instructor certificate. How would I do that if I was stuck in the old nine-to-five in Rutsville? Hahaha!"

You may hear a delicious crackle from the chicken, as well as a whimpering sound from Mr Cushy-Job. He'll have another go at ruffling your feathers before his goose is cooked, though.

"Teachers complain all the time but they're the only ones with a pay rise and a job for life! Half of them can't spell and don't even have a degree ..."

Give him a friendly shrug. He won't like it. Keep doing this, even if he says most teachers eat cats. Smile at him as if he is an interesting sponge. Then ask him what his teachers were like.

"Oh, I remember Miss Throttlekitten. She was a bitch. She spat, and she had these weird front teeth that sort of did this ..."

Suddenly it's 1979 again, and he is on the naughty chair for losing his gym shoes. This is why he has been trying to wind you up all this time. He's not seeing you; he's seeing Miss Throttlekitten. He doesn't want the truth: he wants revenge.

He looks at you and sees Mrs Puppykicker, who made him sing a solo in assembly. And Mrs Vexrabbit, who shouted at him when he lost the egg-and-spoon race because he didn't hear the whistle.

Taunts from non-teachers will slide off you once you realise that to them you are Mrs Pawn-Hamster, who confiscated their Dalek stickers and never gave them back. You are Mr Iron-Gerbil, who falsely accused them of stealing glue. Worst of all, Miss Mangledream, who never, ever gave them a gold star.

The kindest thing you can do is to listen, then offer some cookies and milk if the chicken is too peppery. There, that's better. Now, shall we go and have some jelly and ice-cream?

Catherine Paver is a writer and part-time English teacher.

Mike Kent is on holiday.

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