Laugh now or crack up later

My PGCE course is finally drawing to a close. I would like to say the pressure is off at university but in reality it has just changed to a different sort of pressure.

More tutorials or workshops in all subjects, and more assessments too. I feel as though I am a hamster on a treadmill, despite being so close to the finishing post there still seems to be no end. I have never bought so much printer ink.

I have now come to the conclusion that this course should come equipped with a government health warning: it can seriously damage family life. If there was one piece of advice I was to give to someone considering taking this course, it would be ensure you have the support of your family, make sure they mean it, ask them again, confirm this in writing, signed in blood, preferably theirs, then find the name of a good divorce lawyer.

Of course that last part does not apply to my young, footloose and fancy free peers. Those of us who are, how can I put this, slightly longer in the tooth and with more commitments have been known to suffer through the course.

Despite trying to keep enough of the carpet clear of books and papers so that I can see the pattern without having to commit it to memory, trying to wash up at least once a week (the dog helps where he can), leaving notes to the children to remind them I still love them and waving to dearly beloved on the stairs when I pass him, he seems to think it is not enough and I have been reduced to typing notes and journal entries in the wee small hours.

I have never spent so many days in total silence because no-one is talking to me. So, despite the funny side (which you have to see or you'd crack up), this is a serious piece of advice: this course involves much work, takes up a lot of time and requires a considerable commitment, but you have to put it in its place and not let it take over your life, there are more important things in life than an assignment, especially at 3.45am.

That's it - sermon over. Thankfully I am covering alternative therapies with an AS group later. Pass the aromatherapy oils please, someone Angela Parkes is a student teacher in Wolverhampton

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