Blitz the blizzard! Duvet days are for wimps

13th February 2009 at 00:00

I got up at 6am last week, looked out at four inches of snow, and thought "Ah well, our school never closes. Hurrah for the British independent school spirit, God save the Queen and we'll fight them on the beaches."

Then I showered, washed my hair, and was dripping in a towel by the time the phone rang.

"We can go back to bed," said the voice of my emergency contact. She sounded muffled as though still under the duvet, as snug as a bug in a 15 tog. There are times when the use of the first person plural pronoun "we" is very irritating.

Unless I rummaged for my hairdryer (which dates to the Lady Di hair-flick era and is powered by lighter fuel), I'd have to wait an hour before sliding back under the covers.

So, absolved of the requirement to face the unknown dangers of a day at school, I was downstairs at 7.30am looking out at the snow.

It was a pretty scene; our windows have that faux lead-diamond pattern that my sister says looks vile and plebby, but that recreates a Christmas-card effect very nicely when there's snow. I could even see a robin perched on a snow-laden branch, which was comforting. At least two of us were up, and he looked a little damp too.

A short time later, I'd checked my Year 11 reports, made a few notes on poetry, read a few pages of a play, and still had the best part of a day off ahead.

But I had to admit to feeling disappointed. As I showered, I'd had a frisson of excitement thinking about the day I was bravely facing. Something different, no doubt, with half the girls and staff marooned in outlying villages. It would be like wartime, everyone pulling together, survival the only goal.

Perhaps I'd be called on to take three classes at once in the hall and wow them with an off-the-cuff lesson that would ignite in them a burning passion for English. Maybe I'd be asked to help in the kitchen, cooking hot vegetable soup for 350 in the absence of all the catering staff. Would I get stranded with a class in a building on the edge of the school and have to draw on Brownie skills to make fires and build snow shelters? Or make extra clothes out of old newspaper?

This kind of egotistical fantasising is perhaps what comes of smothering yourself in too much chocolate-flavoured shower gel. It takes you into another world entirely. For a start, I got thrown out of Brownies before fire-lighting and snow-sheltering. I had only taken my how-to-make-tea-for-old-people badge before expulsion.

But English teachers don't face many day-to-day risks, and it would be nice to have the chance. A games teacher and I were recently comparing the "hazard levels" involved in our jobs. All I could come up with were paper cuts, shoulder strain from stretching to the top half of the whiteboard (I'm only 5ft 2in) and a deep indentation on my middle finger from marking. I won't say her expression was condescending, but ...

Oh well, I thought, staring out at the snow, I'll go and make myself a nice egg, bacon and sausage sandwich, marmalade on toast and three cups of tea. After that lot, I'll be ready for a nice nap. My hair's just about dry, after all.

Fran Hill, English teacher at an independent girls' school in Warwickshire.

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