Crash, bang, wallop physics

17th March 2006 at 00:00
Like my fellow columnist Brian Toner, I shall miss Life on Mars, the BBC show about a cop who finds himself back in 1973. Indeed, I have often thought that the Sweeney-style polisman is the long-suppressed side of my teaching persona.

Many is the time when, on walking down a corridor with a colleague and witnessing some minor misdemeanour, I have longed to snarl: "We're the physics department and we haven't had any dinner yet." I blame my father, who had a penchant for large Fords. The first car I ever drove solo was his M-plate metallic purple Consul. This may have had an even greater influence on my younger brother, because he did join the police.

He joined the police force and is now in the police service. I joined the teaching profession and am still in the teaching profession. From the inside, it has always looked like a more professional profession than it appeared to be when I was on the outside looking in. "But," cries a reader of the Daily Asylum-Seeker Hater, "surely teachers were respected in those days?" Errr, no. That was not a word the weans used.

It wasn't even grudging admiration - more like seething resentment that any slight deviation in class would be met with a belting from a clown who couldn't teach for toffee. If that's the same as respect, then I'm a blond-wigged slag who had a one-night stand with Jack Regan even though he banged up her old man for armed robbery.

It would be very wrong to suggest that I spent the seventies in a state of perpetual fear, or that I did not have plenty of teachers who were both hugely likeable but who accepted no cheek. It just seemed to be easier to be bloody useless in those days and to get away with it.

And here's a little vignette I'd like to share with you. It's a very minor example of unprofessionalism, but somehow it rankles. It was the end of term, with perhaps a week to go. There was no such thing as a June timetable change in those days so the month between the exams finishing and the holidays starting was spent footering about, sometimes constructively, sometimes not.

On this day, the biology department had amalgamated three classes into a room with a television so that they (the teachers) could watch the tennis.

I had no interest in the game and began to blether to my friend. "If you're not watching this, at least be quiet and let others enjoy it," snapped a frosty dame.

How I wish I'd had the guts to turn round and sneer at her "shut it!", just like the guv'nor would.

Gregor Steele noticed that, in a recent episode of Taggart, DI Ross was driving a Kia.

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