It wasn’t the first time I had fallen in love with a school photocopier-repair man. In fact it wasn’t even the second. Nor even… Anyway, I say “man” because photocopier-repair people are always “men” where I teach.
And real men at that – a different specimen entirely from our pale, tired and underfed teaching colleagues.
What draws me to them?
Initially I put it down to that soft white shirt underneath the crisp dark suit. It immediately triggers powerful feelings within of steadfast, monochromatic assurance.
He has all the classic continental elan of a Jean-Paul Belmondo or a Marcello Mastroianni.
Yes, the men in our senior leadership team also like to wear a dark suit these days, but somehow it doesn’t have the same effect at all – just feels as if a little boy is inside there screaming “look how grown up I am!”
Yet photocopier-man is more than merely film-star cool and handsome. He is our hero, our lesson-rescuer, the chivalrous heraldic knight in our frantic, paper-jammed world.
He is the the clean-cut 1940s Spitfire ace and AA roadside-rescue man rolled into one extremely handy and enticing package. So, I ask, who wouldn’t?
The latest one – we’ll call him “Jake” – may even prove to be "the one".
He first came to fix the imposing but troubled staffroom showpiece, the Greening 321. The Greening is typical of most school photocopiers offering us hope when first installed but then sticking stubbornly on certain jobs and with others, trying to ram a whole load of sheets through at the same time.
We have similar trouble elsewhere in the school with the older Turbo Gibbmeister 456 – all the lights are on, but nothing seemingly going on inside.
We thought there might be a brave new dawn when they wheeled away the notorious Gove 1950S (aka “The Mangle”) but the new ones seem to be no better.
Anyway, Jake arrived in January with his impressive toolbox and settled down to work. As with his predecessors, I walked over and offered him a coffee.
After an odd little hesitation (had he perhaps heard about me?) he said yes.
Eventually he was happy to let me clean the glass with his lint-free cloth. I caught his eye as I slid my hand to and fro.
Thanks to my, er, previous experience I was able to reel off an extensive knowledge of exposure lamps, charge coronas, drums, developers and toners. He seemed impressed.
After less than an hour of persuasion, he agreed to a date.
He seemed a little awkward, at first, when I started to tell him about “the others”. (Though in fairness to my own much-derided good name, there have only been five other photocopier-men, as I don’t include the fellow who came to fix the staffroom printer.)
But when I pointed out that it was really all about “duplication” Jake appreciated the cleverness of my pun, gave a nervous laugh and seemed to see the funny side.
He now says he’s completely cool about it. As said, I do think that Jake could be “the one” – the end of the “run”, as it were.
So-called friends at school, on the other hand, are more sceptical.
They think that Jake is just the latest. They say that I will get bored again and that, before long, I will be wanting to “replace the cartridge” as they delicately put it.
It’s just envy speaking, I know – green A3-sized envy.”
The teacher wishes to remain anoymous