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Oh, for the fluffy cloud of serenity

A life in the year of Emily Shark

i need to calm down. I want to become a less angry person. This little book on stress looks nice. It's already made me feel a bit better because it's blue and has fluffy white clouds on the cover. I do get a slightly creepy voice in my head when I'm reading it. But I'm determined to give it a try.

Look at the calm people you know. Learn from them. My head of department stays calm by hiding - I haven't seen Alison Tenk for a week. She gives Melinda Sleam bits of paper with bad news scribbled on them. Sleam then types them up and puts them in our pigeonholes. Tenk and Sleam are calm people: what can I learn from them?

Well, hiding is nice, and no one can see me from this angle. As long as this papier-mache volcano stays put, I'm safe till the bell goes. No one comes to this part of the library much anyway. There's even a comfy space for my elbows behind the endangered village.

The thing is, I just don't understand calm people. There goes Richard Spatley. Look at that loping walk of his. He's looking for someone - probably an invigilator who hasn't turned up. Steel-Nerve Spatley does the exam timetable every year and I've never seen his face change. Not even when a pigeon got trapped in the skylight. So, what does Calm Down For Good have to say about that? Let's try C for crisis...

There's no sodding index! What a crappy book! Breathe... Oh, shut up! I already am breathing - I'm just a bit annoyed, that's all. Right. Maybe the contents page will help: Calm your body, calm your mind. Hmm. That sounds nice. Look at the cartoon people. Which one is you? Well, that's not fair! If I was a), b) or even c), would I have bought this book? Obviously, I'm miserably crumpled d). Well done. Identifying a problem is half of the solution. No it bloody isn't! Ooh, look, I'm bankrupt. Hooray, I've half-solved the problem now.

Are you frowning? Yes, but that's because there's no index. Are you hunched over? Are your shoulders tense? Fists clenched? They are now! We do this when we feel vulnerable. Think about the message you are conveying to others - especially if you are in a position of authority. Hmm. Can't argue with that - though I'd like to see this writer teach Maddy and Slicer without frowning or clenching a fist. I wonder how stressful it is writing books with fluffy clouds on them... Shark, just do it. Unclench, unfrown and sit up straight.

"Emily! There you are! Mrs Frap on the phone again, I'm afraid. Still disputing the mark you gave to Sammy's Shakespeare project."

"OK, Melinda, I'm coming."

Sod the fluffy clouds - I need a bigger volcano to hide behind. Oh well. At least on the telephone I can hunch and frown as much as I like.

More from Emily in a fortnight

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