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Life is but a dream

Inspired by the Sunday Times' "Life in a Day of" series my Year 10 classes have been writing autobiographies. I've read about everything from a collective preference for Crunchy Nut Cornflakes to parental alcoholism.

I've smiled a lot, laughed out loud and shed tears once.

But Miss, what would you write?

My alarm is set for 5.30am for me to fit in an hour's marking before showering and hair straightening. I tiptoe past my daughter's bedroom in our rented two-bedroom house and glance in the mirror. Something resembling a cross between my mother and Alice Cooper grimaces back. I've aged a decade since starting teaching 10 weeks ago.

Ten pieces of descriptive writing marked, I slap on my paint-by-numbers confident face and at 7.30am take my daughter to her childminder. Arriving at school I drink a large mug of Colombian Blend and compliment the head- teacher on his egalitarian biscuit linen suit.

Walking into my first lesson the caffeine kicks in and I perform like an inspired puppet with invisible strings. At break time a bra is found in the English corridor but I don't think it's mine.

To get a free egg sandwich I carry out lunchtime duty, patrolling the fringes of the playing field. I hear some furtive adolescent giggles coming from a distant hedge and I traipse forward. What will I find? Snogging? Sex? Fags? Crack? No - three lovely girls eating their lunch. Would I like to share some ciabatta with sun- dried tomatoes?

In the afternoon a pupil wearing a T-shirt declaring "Practise Safe Sex: Go F**k Yourself" initiates a spontaneous poll on the number of parents who are still together. It's about 25 per cent. An insightful discussion develops about "broken homes" and foster parents that I wish BBC2 was filming.

After a revision, enhancement or enrichment class I drive home, have dinner with my daughter, help her with homework and take her to bed. I need to do a couple of hours' marking and planning, but there are two internet sites I'm compelled to research. Could I become a foster parent? No, and it was a barmy idea anyway. Can I buy a house? Yes, if a six times multiplier is applied to my salary.

I open a bottle of Pinot Grigio, do my schoolwork, set the alarm for seven hours hence and fall asleep in three seconds. If I remember, I'll have a humungous lump of Stilton before I go to sleep; this guarantees riveting dreams that make up for my lack of a social life.

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