Every reason to be afraid for the Woolfs

25th April 2008 at 01:00
Mrs Woolf is an entertainment
Mrs Woolf is an entertainment. No event is too small or too trivial for her to race into school to complain. There are weeks when she appears to be a permanent fixture in the entrance hall.

When she came to see me this time, she arrived with her friend, Mrs Rice.

Mrs Rice is a weird figure who goes everywhere with a shopping trolley. She has the unnerving habit of suddenly jumping up and rummaging through it. What function she serves - and indeed, what function the shopping trolley serves - we are not quite sure. But they are an inseparable couple.

It appears that Mrs Woolf had been walking past the bus stop and had heard some boys talking about her daughter, Carmella. Now, the truth of the matter is that Carmella has been telling her class that she is pregnant. It happens - it's what some teenage girls do. It is a bit of drama that reflects either boredom or guilt. But for Mrs Woolf, this situation was a scandal. And she was ranting and causing a scene.

"I want something done," she cried. "I'm taking our Carmella home until you sort it out."

Actually, she is always taking the poor girl home because of some imagined affront or crisis, so I was not surprised.

"She's pregnant," the mother announced. "And I know who did it ... It was God."

I am seldom lost for words, but for a moment I had no idea what to say.

"I know because I heard him talking about it at the bus stop this morning," she explained further.

In all the bizarre exchanges I have had with her over the years, this was certainly a departure for Mrs Woolf, and quite an achievement on God's part to get her to listen. She rarely listens to anything I say.

I have often speculated on the role that divine intervention must have played in her own life. How else would she become pregnant herself? To be honest, nature has not been kind. You can see outlined in her face a hard and difficult life. She could be any age between 30 and 50. Mrs Woolf has not been blessed. But she is heavily pregnant. The father of the unborn is Lyndon. Apparently, I taught him.

While colleagues stuffed handkerchiefs into their mouths to stifle their hysteria, I was rescued by the bursar, who gave her a cup of tea and listened while Mrs Rice rearranged the shopping trolley's contents.

And soon Mrs Woolf was rearranging her belly. The very act of turning up in school and making a fuss seemed to have satisfied her. In fact, we said little and we did nothing. If Carmella is pregnant, then it seems God is still in the frame.

So Mrs Woolf and Mrs Rice went off to town for a fry-up - surely enough to get the little blighter moving.

And it did. In the afternoon, Mrs Woolf squeezed into the world a new baby boy, called Chesney.

He hasn't got a chance.

John Sutton is a pseudonym. He teaches in North Wales.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today