This is my most difficult day. My first meeting with those doyens of the profession, the secondary heads. All men, all perfect, all powerful. Don't confuse them with facts, statistics or reports: they are making decisions.
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.