The 12 days of angst ...

23rd December 2005 at 00:00
We were in the countdown to Christmas. In fact, there were only 12 days of term left and I had been hoping to get through to the end sustaining only minor injuries. With hindsight, I can see that the unfolding of the traditional seasonal saga was inevitable.

Day 1

The depute head was the first to succumb. She came to me in tears over her organisation of a Secret Santa for staff, the idea being that everyone would buy a gift and then pick one at random out of a lucky dip. Comments had been made about a Nodding Dog as an appropriate surprise package and she had taken it personally. I made reassuring noises about not seeing how anyone could make a connection to her.

Day 2

A veritable Aladdin's cave of Christmas craft resources was left in the staffroom with an invitation to take what everyone needed. There ensued a rather embarrassing stramash in the rush to grab tubes of glitter, red card and sequins, involving a hand-off of Murrayfield standards between two SEN staff. An early end to the season of goodwill.

Day 3

Internal delivery of Christmas cards presents problem-solving challenges for some. Three pupils needed discreet help in locating Mrs Nipple and Miss Haggis. Mrs Nicol and Mrs Harris received some cards sans envelopes and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Day 4

A dramatic drop in temperature transformed most of the staff car park into a skating rink around the foot-wide path picked out in sand by the jannie.

The matrimonial status of his parents was called into question repeatedly by those who struggled to traverse their way across the glacial plane. But he was hailed as a hero after he caught four teenagers who, after stealing dust caps from yuppie staff cars, came a cropper in their attempt to escape on the vast expanse of his untreated ice.

Day 5

A young teacher heard of these shenanigans and I was summonsed next day to examine her car for evidence of damage. It had a chassis held together with rust, chewing gum and bits of string, with five clearly defined dents and various paint colours exposed beneath. Not recent and not my problem, I told her.

Day 6

The day of the dress rehearsal of the nativity was unseasonably warm but no one, least of all the jannie, had thought to adjust the heating after the recent freeze. Clad in remnants of thick curtain material, kids were visibly wilting under the lights. A decision was taken to abort.

Day 7

A long-serving member of the kitchen staff was due to retire and, unknown to me, a party had been arranged at the end of her shift. The jannie had been delegated to arrange the catering so a wide range of alcoholic beverages was on offer. It was a difficult judgment call for me whether or not to accept the invitation to join the six of them for an impromptu drink.

Day 8

The dreaded P7 Christmas disco brought the usual problems. Several girls changed at lunchtime into minuscule outfits and were promptly instructed to put their school sweatshirts on over their party gear. They eventually concurred, muttering loudly about human rights.

Day 9

Another rehearsal for the nativity and the singing was dire. Several children appeared oblivious to the fact that they were not in harmony and were belting out the songs in good style. I turned a deaf ear.

Day 10

A huge number turned out for the concert. I remembered to make the usual housekeeping announcements but I may as well have saved my breath. On the positive side, intermittent text messages distracted the audience from the unseemly attempts at upstaging among the heavenly choir, which culminated in a punch-up between a few prima donnas.

Day 11

A group of outraged parents and triumphant offspring arrived following the ruling about party clothes. The smug smiles of almost a dozen girls who had greatly embellished the tale at home are forever burnt on to my brain.

Day 12

The staff night out was the last of the term with everyone wrung-out and focused on the holidays. I imbibed rather more than I had intended, but I don't think anyone noticed. So, to sum up, my 12 days of Christmas comprised:

Twelve cokes with rum in

Eleven clypers clyping

Ten mobiles bleeping

Nine kids who can't sing

Eight madams sulking

Seven glasses brimming

Six shepherds swaying

Five old dings

Four sprawling nerds

Three dense friends

Two hefty shoves

And a snivelling DHT.

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