Boldly going - for a job

3rd November 2006 at 00:00
No breaks, no sunshine, no energy - November. I'm going through educational menopause. Put simply, I can't be bothered.

Toilets flooded? Fine. Nits in P4? OK. Two teachers off? No problem. Father Flamboyant visiting to tell me how to run my school? I'm ready for him.

Enter stage left: Father flaunts in, meeting and greeting and so fleeting in his approaches. "How's Uncle Jim? Did little Jimmy's "wee op" go well? Has Shona had her twins? Is Mary still in traction?"

"What sort of a sycophant are you, Father?" "What kind would you like me to be?" asks he. He thinks we should be doing more mental work. Frontal lobotomy anyone?

That's it! After two hours of pontification, prattling and posturing, he left me without a shred of confidence. I felt a failure. I felt useless. I felt incompetent. It wasn't like this in his former school.

No, it wasn't. The leafy suburbs of East Renfrewshire are not like St Pats.

We place more emphasis on affection than attainment, more on pleasure than passes and more on caring than competition. We are not in the SPL, the Schools Posturing League; we are in the lower reaches of the Sunday Amateurs.

I decided to apply for another job rather than face endless tales of achievement and attainment from ER, that hot-bed of rampant poverty, deprivation, disillusionment, exclusion, undernourishment and social discontent.

Teflon John had placed an ad in the Internal Bulletin for a secondment to the directorate. To raise achievement and standards across the authority.

To go where no man has gone before. It's education, but not as we knew it.

I asked for a form. I checked out the possible competition. I did my homework. I didn't tell Him, lest he feign interest. Fat chance. Fat slob.

Why do I stay? He's good at fixing washing machines and my troublesome Dyson. He is good at servicing cars. In the words of the song, "I am his woman, and he is my repair man".

Two weeks later. A letter from Teflon. An interview awaits. Councillors Young and Freel will be present, along with Teflon John and Curriculum Kate, our very own college refugee.

A new frock? Not for the long leet, surely? Why not? Monsoon, here I come.

I am early. I have no pain. I am probably still being carried on a gossamer cloud by that fine bottle of Chardonnay I enjoyed last night. Liberal application of mouthwash. Look in mirror. I look like a Hong Kong executive. Wrong shop, Bridget. I westernise, but just a wee bit.

Teflon is fawning. Kate is flapping. Councillor Young has had a good lunch.

Councillor Freel is comatose. Teflon clears his throat in an exaggerated fashion. Councillor Freel shouts "No vote!" and falls back into her reverie.

Teflon sets the scene. Councillor Freel snores. Her colleague nudges her in the ribs. "No vote!" First to ask a question is Councillor Young. "Well, Mrs eh, Mrs eh, Mrs (looks down at papers) Mrs Stevenson. Teflon interrupts and corrects him. "How many O-levels have you got?" he asks with great pride. I almost ask him how many he has, but refrain.

"Eight O grades." "That's right!" he said with pride. That was it. He sat back exhausted.

Councillor Freel stirred. I kept seeing the dormouse from Alice in Wonderland. She opened her envelope, shuffled her papers and sat back.

Teflon looked suitably embarrassed. He asked her to put a question. "Eh, eh, eh, what's the capital of Peru?" she asked. Kate blushed. Teflon almost bit the top of his pen off with rage. "Lima." "Yes. Well done, Mrs eh, Mrs eh (looks at papers). Mrs Bryans.

Teflon's blushes were multiple. I was rather enjoying this.

Several questions from Curriculum Kate, none of which anyone understood, were fired off. I smiled sweetly. Councillor Freel snored. Councillor Young checked the expiry dates on his credit cards. Teflon wriggled and squirmed.

The interview ended. I left. The ladies' loo was next stop.

Then it happened. Enter Councillor Freel and another female colleague who had been opening tenders for a new care home. Should I cough? Should I flush?

"I've been doing interviews, Jenny, quite good folk," came the voice from stall three.

"Wha's yer choice?" asked stall four. I froze. No movement.

"Nice wee lassie in a Chinese suit. Dinnae ken her name, but she had a nice smile." One vote for me. Three to go.

Teflon would go with the councillors. Creep. Curriculum Kate would see me as shallow and short of underpinning philosophy.

I returned home. I awaited the call. This could be the start of a new adventure for me. Did I want to leave St Pats?

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