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If you can't say anything nice ..

A life in the year of Emily Shark

"Write down what you like about each staff member on your list, then give your comments to me. Be honest, everyone!"

Why is the head making us do this?

"New members of staff bring a fresh pair of eyes to us old fogeys who are part of the furniture. And we can welcome them all into the family."

Bog off! I'm not furniture and this isn't a family. Well, in one way it is: we're stuck with each other.

Top of my list is Suki Bluster, our new head of drama. Last week she bashed a door in my face as she flew out of the ladies' loos. "Sorry, sorry, sorry!" she frothed as she swept away. Why waste valuable seconds saying it three times?

So, I would like to write this about Suki: "I still have the bruise you gave me, I still hate you, and people like you make everybody else want to kill the English and drama department. You're faaaaaaar busier than the rest of us, despite having just one exam class that is invisible to the naked eye."

Hmm. I'll describe you as "lively and active". I would say the same thing of a bucket of maggots, so that's fine.

Melinda Sleam next. Well, she can multi-task all right. She can stab one teacher in the back while tripping up another one; then she'll offer her schadenfreude support to both of them.

Crawling her toxic way up the English department ladder of power, I suppose she could be called "committed". But I would rather put "You are as comforting in a crisis as an acid bath. I find your mortality a cheering thought."

Ryan Egoe. He refers to his youth in every other sentence, as if it is a unique achievement. He drones on about his travels to people who are trying to work. He lectures us about spirituality. And he leaves his teabags in the sink, every time.

Ryan, I think your DNA should be recycled. And I want you to move away from the sink. But what should I write?

Why do we have to like each other anyway? Some of the things that make people effective in a school aren't very likeable. Caroline Spat is a good head of Year 9 because she terrifies everyone. Whenever I talk to her I feel about 4 years old. You need people like that when there's a war on. But do I like her? No, not really. But so what?

The same goes for Albert Pharte, the information technology technician. He is surly and pedantic, but he fixes things when they break. That's what you want, isn't it?

"Okay, I'll start coming round for your notes now. Fold them carefully!"

Help! I've hardly written anything. This must look bad. There's Shark who can't think of anything nice to say about anyone.

"Thanks, everybody. I'll get these typed up and you'll have them soon."

Gulp. I hadn't thought of that. I wonder what they have said about me.

More from Emily in a fortnight.

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