Charity begins

31st October 2003 at 00:00
Allure is in the air as Graham proves he's more than a man of words

Graham Love is handsome, funny - and writing a novel. It's Friday afternoon and he's "putting the finishing touches" to the book on his laptop. He describes it as "Irvine Welsh meets Milan Kundera. Lots of filth and philosophy."

Graham's mobile rings and he starts pacing the room, cursing. "Look, just do the deal!" he shouts and throws his phone on to the table. "Bloody agents, they're useless!" After Graham leaves the room, Jason the Kiwi looks up from his copy of Maxim and sighs loudly. "If that bloke's writing a novel, my arse is a red cabbage. What a wanker."

Jason is in a minority of one on this subject as Graham is currently surfing a rising wave of popularity at St Brian's - quite an achievement for a supply teacher. Many of the staff are in awe of his recent "exclusion" of a Year 11 pupil, Michael Knightley, the hardest lad in school and the common denominator in most of Judith Crock's leaves of absence. Although, strictly speaking, the boy was hospitalised rather than excluded, the consensus in the staffroom is that he had it coming. His parents waived the chance to press charges and sent Graham a half-bottle of whisky and a thank-you card.

Graham has duly been accorded hero status at the 13 Horseshoes, while Jason has been reduced to repeating his tired trick of opening bottles of beer with his eyebrow. The supply stag fight has produced a winner.

I glance at the clock: one minute to the final lesson of the week - with 9C. They've excelled themselves this week. So delighted were they with their improvised re-enactment of the siege of Rorke's Drift in Judith Crock's history class (she's still off sick) that they decided to move on to the Boxer Rebellion - "like flash mobbing with drugs, Miss!" as one of them told the detention supervisor. Something tells me our new emphasis on the British empire in the history syllabus isn't quite working.

Graham enters the room, beaming. "The deal's done, Charity! It's the Groucho Club for me tonight." He notes my expression. "What's up?" "Oh, you know - 9C."

"That bunch of hillbillies! I'll get my canoe!" He starts playing an air banjo and humming the theme from the film Deliverance. Graham has a rather unsound theory about 9C that revolves around inbreeding and sodomy. His attempt at a joke only adds to my dread. He puts his hand on my arm. "Don't worry, Doll, I'm next door - if you need me just shout."

A fight breaks out almost immediately between a 4ft Rottweiler called Ian Ludford and Sam Skinner, a worryingly thin, pale lad. The boys are related several times over, but that doesn't deter them. A chant starts up: "Zulu! Zulu!" One boy makes a rather tuneless attempt at "Men of Harlech".

I watch, powerless. On cue, Graham bursts in and bounds across the desks.

He grabs both boys by the throat, and cracks their heads together lightly.

The class is stunned into silence. "Come on then," Graham shouts, the veins on his neck bulging. "I'll take on the lot of you." Within seconds the boys are all seated.

Graham winks as he leaves the room. "I think you owe me a drink, Miss Casement." I'm tempted. I could do a lot worse than a hunky novelist who wants to protect me. Could Graham Love be the mentor I've been looking for?

Next week: Oh Graham, what have you done?

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