First encounters

31st March 2000 at 01:00
Nicholas Lind is the soul of discretion

Everyone can look back on certain instances and decisions and think, "Why the hell did I do that?" For me it had always been my mid-Eighties Miami Vice look. Sure, bright jackets over T-shirts, and slip-on shoes with no socks looked great on Don Johnson, but photos prove that I looked an inappropriately-dressed pillock in deepest Dorset. But then, in this very column, I pushed poor decision-making to new boundaries.

On February 4 I bemoaned my barren love life. In the back of my mind I guess I hoped someone beautiful and rich would take pity on me and whisk me away to her Caribbean hideaway. At the least I thought it might generate a little sympathy from my colleagues. Sympathy? Yeah, right! I had reckoned without Miss Waterman. Miss Waterman was the name I gave to the new PE mistress who I claimed, in February, was my latest crush. But there is no Miss Waterman. She does not exist. Not even I would be so naive that I would put into the national press the name of someone I fancied. Unfortunately, making her a PE teacher was my big mistake, as there is a new PE teacher. Why I made such a schoolboy error I don't know.

On the Friday the column was published, I walked into the staffroom as usual. There weren't that many people in, but a few were sitting around a table reading various pieces of paper. They all looked up and smiled broadly. This was a new experience and I realised something was up. Still, I decided to ignore them and turned my attention to the cover board. To my surprise I saw a familiar mugshot staring back. There in full A3 glory was my column. Not only was it there, but every reference to Miss Waterman had been highlighted. I turned back to the crew around the table. They each held up a photocopy.

"Don't worry, we've done enough for everyone," they said. To be honest I thought I had got off lightly. Even when I went back to the staffroom at break and found heart-shaped pictures of myself and "the other woman" covering the wall, I still felt I'd somehow survived.

But then, just as I was heading towards my next lesson, my world collapsed. There in front of me were my tutor group, giggling and pointing. "You fancy Miss G! You fancy Miss G!" That was it - game over. 7NPL may not be the most academic students, but they are without doubt the finest purveyors of gossip. Within seconds the whole school knew. At every lesson, I was met by the same chorus.

"Sir! Do ya fancy Miss G? Is she your girlfriend, Sir?" The more they asked, the pinker my face went. The more embarrassed I got, the more my guilt was confirmed. Pupils I had never met before would pass me on the stairs and say to their friends, "That's the one who fancies Miss G".

Some pupils, however, did believe my protestations of innocence. This was pleasing until they explained why. Some believed my pink shirts discounted me from ever wanting a girlfriend, while others said she was well out of my league.

Slowly the comments started to die down. I began to breathe easily again. Until Valentine's Day. Everywhere I went I was asked what I had sent Miss G. I didn't help myself by walking out of the morning briefing talking to her. To the kids, this was proof of an affair.

Anyway, I have learned my lesson. Never again will I bring my private life into a public arena. I must go now - my flight leaves in an hour. I'm going to a ball in Glasgow with a beautiful university student. At least no one will ever find out about her.

Nicholas Lind is an NQT at Ashton Park school, Bristol

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