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Shirke by name - and by nature

A life in the year of Emily Shark

A life in the year of Emily Shark

A life in the year of Emily Shark.

"Hi, girls. I'm Malcolm Shirke, your new head of English. Let me tell you now that I lead with a light touch. I'm no box-ticking neurotic - we've all met those, haven't we?"

Eek, he's just made his first enemy. Melinda has gone a funny colour. Does he know that she wanted his job?

"I just think there's no point in worrying about things. They always sort themselves out in the end. Chaos of creation, eh, Suki?"

Oh, this is fantastic, It's the King Lear school of management - divide and don't rule. He's got Melinda seething and Suki simpering. I wonder what he'll try with me.

"Here's a form to fill in for senior management. Let's get it done first so we can move on to more interesting things."

Ah, I see his game. The head of department is meant to fill this in, then we all sign it. Instead, he's left it blank except for his rock-star squiggle of a signature at the bottom.

This is why things always sort themselves out for you, Mr Shirke. You don't do them. Your box-ticking neurotics do it instead, leaving you free to lecture them about chilling out.

"But, you ..."

"Yes, Melinda?"

"This form is meant to ..."

"Oh, rules are made to be broken. Time you had a man around here to remind you of that."

For the first time ever, I have some sympathy with Melinda. It also makes me realise that Alison Tenk wasn't a slacker. She spent lots of time hiding and she used Melinda to give people bad news. But she wasn't like this.

"And another thing - you can cry on my shoulder anytime."

Can I be sick down your back, too? Look at the way he's stretching himself out and power-twinkling his eyes at everyone. He's a human smirk.

If only I could say: "Look, I opposite-of-fancy you. Yes, even with your twinkly eyes. They are pretty, and they'd be nice in someone else's head. But one lucky genetic accident does not offset major character flaws like being a lazy, patronising sleazebag."

I wonder who originally said that we shouldn't trust our first impressions. I wouldn't give them the time of day. I mean, it worked for hunter-gatherers.

"Wait, let's just see what this particular bear wants ..." - Crunch! Poor Ugga. He always wanted to understand everybody.

I just want to run away from this man. If I were a Jane Austen heroine, I'd have to stick around to find out if he's really nice underneath. But I'm not, so I don't have to crawl through 60 chapters of moral education. I'm not being written by someone who will make sure that I end happily. Right now, I can see the future and it doesn't work.

Well, I could always leave.

More from Emily in a fortnight.

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