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Lapsedand loving it

That's it. I've done it. From next week I am no longer a teacher. I have resisted the word "retired"; instead I have chosen to call myself "lapsed". I rather like all the connotations.

It will take some getting used to. Apart from my first four years, and the three years before our eldest began playschool, the other 40 years of my life have started in September, punctuated by school holidays.

Being a teacher has been a part of my identity for a long time, although I have been less inclined to shout it from the rooftops over recent years. As a profession we have been blamed for so much, including the decline of the Welsh rugby team and of our economic competetiveness in Europe.

I feel a bit as I imagine early emigrees to the New World might have felt - mindful of what has been left behind, a bit adrift for the moment but full of joyful anticipation of the new opportunities on offer.

What changes have I noticed so far? Our holiday in Scotland for one thing. I did not make straight for the children's sections of museum and castle gift shops looking for an artefact, story or fact book to lend new life to my fith consecutive topic on Ancient Egypt. And it's the little unexpected things that get you. Last week, in Sainsbury's, the checkout assistant asked me if I was collecting the vouchers for schools.

"No thank you. You see I'm not a teacher anymore."

Carol Ward lives in Bedfordshire.

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