Like death or just a day off?;Opinion

26th June 1998 at 01:00
THIS WEEK I was going to write about why our local headmaster is a secret Paraguayan. Unfortunately, however, my column will not be appearing today.

Yes, I know this is inconvenient and, no, I am sorry that it does not mean you get a refund on any money paid up front. The fact is I have decided that the service that you get from me will be improved if I take the day off.

Not that I want you to think this is a holiday for me. Oh no, I will be working really hard to catch up with all the advances in column writing that have occurred since I last took a day off. Training and development take time, you know, particularly as The TES is continually issuing us columnists with new guidelines. I simply cannot take all that stuff on board and do my job.

In any case, I have not got much choice - I am looking after Tom this morning because his blasted school has an Inset day. The Government allows up to five of these unpredictable disruptions every year just so that people like me can be caught on the hop.

I really ought to be experienced at preparing for them by now, but invariably I am that one lone parent standing outside the school gate with my children, demanding to be let in.

In this respect an Inset day has always struck me as being rather like death. You know it has got to hit you one day but at the same time you somehow do not really believe it will happen.

Tom's school sent us a note about Inset days back in April, along with a list of other improbable dates such as "end of term under-6s disco" and Mr Hampton's annual summer sizzler barbecue. "Inset day" I thought. "Must make a note of that." But did I? Hell no.

And so, of course, it all came as a very big and very inconvenient surprise this morning when Tom simply refused to pick up his bag and walk to the car. Funny how children never forget an Inset day.

Maybe he and his sisters, brought up on a diet of random days off, will find it easier to grasp the concept when they areparents. Maybe they will not get grumpy and suspicious and pick up the paper to see if this day's training coincides with an important World Cup match. Maybe they will resist the temptation to see something awfully Paraguayan about Mr Hampton.

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