Bridget 1 Jim 0
They don't need education and learning committees, they don't need a director, councillors, parents, or even pupils. They are Gods among Men. This is their official termly get-together, although the inner cabal meet secretly every fortnight under the guise of a Rotary meeting.
Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail. Merry Mac's fun page 1957, or was it the five-minute manager? Same thing. I have prepared for this with extensive reading, personal research and investigative reporting. Know thine enemy. What could a mere woman bring to this particular table?
I could just hear them as the news of my appointment reached their walnut-panelled offices. Not her. A female? A 50-year-old? And, I suspect, they added in a few more "f's" as well, though none would dare say that to my face.
I was to be an irrelevance, having never run such an establishment as a secondary school in my closeted career. The fact that St Pat's was bigger than all but two of their "academies" and that I had two deputes, while they struggled on with only six, was neither here nor there.
The wardrobe was important today. I watched The Devil Wears Prada last night and I went for the Meryl Streep look. I came into the room and saw them standing in their cliques, each one turning to greet me with a level of insincerity I hadn't come across since my wedding day.
My biggest critic was Jim, or as he was affectionally known, the Bull of Bellshill. I moved in for the kill. Jim was in full flight, regaling his audience with his account of the previous night's Rangers match. He was demonstrating the moves leading up to a controversial decision, and his clique, all of whom were his former deputes, friends or fellow Rotarians, nodded, grovelled and offered total subservience. Go girl.
"That's what I thought too, Jim. When Novo ran outside Whittaker, the United wing-back played him on and he wasn't offside. Mind you, have you ever seen so many foul throws from a professional? Someone needs to teach Broadfoot how to take a shye."
You could have heard a pin drop. Jaws bounced off the floor. Cups were shaking. Gobs were smacked. Game, set and match to Bridget. The rest of the meeting was a stroll in the park. The new director was one of the lads. She knew the offside rule. She'd do for them. Jim was putty in my hands.
I dreaded an invite to his next Rotary meeting or, worse, an invite to Castle Grey Skull. There is a limit to what a good Catholic girl will do, even in the name of educational research. Once was enough.