The driving force

21st August 2015 at 01:00

It offers a multisensory experience like no other. Sunlight accentuates every seductive curve of its aerodynamically sculpted body. In the dust-free interior, the scent of new plastic and vinyl overpowers the olfactory system. The eco-intelligent power unit purrs like the cat that got the cream and fell asleep on a duck-feather duvet.

Nothing attracts a gathering of salivating males like the arrival of a shiny new car on a quiet suburban avenue. What man could resist that heady mix of eroticised metal and testosterone-fuelled banter? Even men like me, who rarely watch Top Gear and have little practical or technical knowledge of the workings of an internal combustion engine, are drawn irresistibly towards it.

But even as we congratulate Mrs Fraught on her automatic door mirrors with integrated indicators, we remember how she lost her previous ones. Those gate posts have a lot to answer for but they aren't the main reason her old car looked like a victim of automotive abuse. Keeping a vehicle in pristine condition is easy for mono-tasking old men, but for busy working mums it's a different story. The School Run Derby, the Late for Work Time Trial and the Supermarket Dash soon sort the girls from the boys.

I smile and advise Mrs Fraught to make the most of her moment of high-gloss glory. We both know that by darkest December her shiny new car will blend in with winter's grime, its stylish interior a repository for assorted sweet wrappers. All working mums (and primary teachers) know that when young children force a person to live in the fast lane, something has to give.

Contrary to popular opinion, teachers' long summer holidays are not a time for coasting along life's byways. These are the days when tired old classrooms are transformed into shiny new ones. It is the season for setting out new learning resources; creating informative displays; constructing reading corners; labelling exercise books; sticking names on drawers; planning activities; and making unrealistic promises.

How many classrooms not yet tainted by children have inspired these vows? I do solemnly swear to replace dog-eared displays before their borders sag. I pledge to keep on top of marking. I hereby attest that I will not leave at the end of the day until (insert any or all of the following): the sink area is clean; the paint cupboard is tidy; reading books are on shelves; pencils are sharpened; iPads are charged; tomorrow's resources are prepared.

My thoughts are disturbed by a spontaneous ripple of applause as Mrs Fraught drives slowly over the speed bumps and away into the distance. This is a signal for the men to disperse. Some go away to polish their own cars while others plan a visit to a showroom. I will do neither - I've got far too much work to get through before the start of term.

Steve Eddison teaches at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield

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